Say what you will about CrossFitters: We are part of a cult. We talk incessantly about our WODs (workout of the day). We use acronyms to describe almost everything, we are insanely competitive, and our diets make no sense/are extreme etc.

Full disclosure, it is not my intention to refute ANY of these claims. In fact, I often refer to my CrossFit gym, or “box,” as we cult members call it, as a torture chamber. And one of the reasons I am willing to endure this particular type of torture is because it makes me feel extremely sexy. So how could sweating profusely while hoisting a heavy barbell over head, uttering noises of constipated agony, all the while being yelled out by a very large, muscular, somewhat attractive (if he weren’t making all of those grunting noises) male workout partner, make me feel like a glistening, powerful Amazonian Queen? Allow me to explain.

CrossFit, unlike any other physical activity I’ve ever attempted in the past, has given me a slightly unexpected version of what I have always desired for this 5”4 waif of a frame, curves. And not necessarily the ones that are traditionally considered desirable in mainstream culture. Curves like deltoids and biceps, abs and quads. Curves like hamstrings and calves, traps and triceps. CrossFit has made me appreciate my body more and in ways that I had never expected. I feel stronger and more capable while engaging in every day physical activities. All of the squats we do have made my pants fit tighter in the butt and thigh area, and the heavy lifting has made my jackets more snug along my newly formed biceps. And this might be a debatable proposition given our culture’s traditional idea of beauty norms, but having muscle definition makes me feel more womanly.

My fascination with having curves began quite appropriately during my freshman year of high school. And let me preface this by saying that for most of my childhood, I looked like a slightly more healthy version of a Holocaust survivor with bad teeth, thin hair and buggy eyeballs far too large for my face. Freshman year is when I finally resigned myself to the fact that I might not ever obtain the level of female physical maturation that had once seemed so clearly inevitable during my naive, pre-pubescent, Barbie-wielding years. And when I say “female physical maturation,” what I really mean is, having beautifully proportionate curves like women are supposed to have. And when I say, “beautifully proportionate curves,” what I really mean is…boobs. That’s right, my derriere blossomed some time around junior or sophomore year, but as for my chest region, I am still a very modest double A.

I was also pretty terrible at sports during adolescence. I ran cross-country for four years, but contact sports were completely out of the question. Coordination was not my friend – not even a distant acquaintance, actually. I think that’s why now, as a CrossFitter, being able to out-do someone in number of consecutive pull-ups or smoke ‘em in a 400 meter run between sets of power cleans feels pretty damn good. But for me, personally, while the act of exercising can be exhilarating (and let’s be honest, mostly painful) and the aftermath full of endorphin-releasing ecstasy, I do revel in the physical transformation it affords my otherwise scrawny frame. That is, once I’ve scrubbed all of the blood, sweat, and chalk stains off my body.

So, while the Christian Greys of the world may have their own version of a torture chamber that allows them to feel sensual and empowered, when it comes to unleashing my inner Beyonce, I’ll stick with CrossFit.