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Meet Atlanta Fitness Instructor Cookie D’Lite – Reckon South

Fitness can be a drag – and it might just be the best way to start your new year.

It’s the start of a brand new year, and everyone is hitting the fitness goals we set in January. But how can we actually sustain the big goals beyond, say, the first seven days?

For answers, we turned to Darnell Kenney, Atlanta’s new fitness queen, who stars as Cookie D’Lite. Cookie’s fitness journey began in New York City, where she starred in off-Broadway productions and became an instructor for the dance-centric 305 Fitness. In 2019, Cookie’s lease was up and she had three options: stay in New York, move to New Jersey, or go to Atlanta. She chose the latter option based on a prior visit to the city.

“I had visited Atlanta before and loved the atmosphere. It was like another New York City,” Cookie told us. The rest is history. Cookie’s high-energy pop-up classes are now a staple of Atlanta’s Piedmont Park.

But these aren’t your average fitness workouts in the park: Cookie loves leading her drag lessons. So what inspired her to merge a passion for fitness with a love of drag? “I’ve never seen this before!” laughed Cookie. “Drag is much more mainstream today. I love fitness, and what better way to empower people to dance and move than with a drag queen guiding them?”

Cookie’s grand vision is to create a community centered around radical acceptance and self-love. She does this in more ways than one. Not only does she keep Atlanta in shape, but she’s also a huge advocate for mental health awareness. For much of her adulthood, acting was Cookie’s main outlet after childhood therapy sessions until she took a self-help course.

“I took a class with Momentum Education around 2018, and the instructor asked me to share my story. It was the green light for me to be open about my mental health journey,” Cookie said.

Cookie shared her journey on social media and learned, based on the overwhelming number of responses, that many people could relate to her. Today, her story continues to inspire every student who walks into her classroom, from those who reserve seats well in advance to those who show up while walking through the park.

Cookie says the key to staying consistent this year, and every year, is to keep moving. If you don’t have weight, you can walk or dance. Just make an effort to move every day and you’ll be on your way.

Cookie also has some advice for younger members of the LGBTQ+ community: “It’s okay to be scared, but it’s also okay to take up space. Be loud, be proud, and know that someone in the world needs your gift.

If you’re ever in Atlanta and need a good fun workout to boost your mood and health, head over to Cookie House and reserve your place.

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