Meet Cookie, the Atlanta-based queen who’s bringing drag into the world of fitness

Cookie D’Lite is an Atlanta-based drag performer who is bringing glamour to the world of fitness! Wearing sparkly outfits and vibrant lipstick, Cookie leads joyful fitness classes that blend singing, dancing, humor and high-intensity cardio exercises.

Darnell Kenney, aka Cookie D’Lite, wanted to create a drag persona that allowed him to embrace his love of performance and his love of fitness. 

“A couple of years ago, I think I would say 2019, I was sitting out with my best friend Walter, [who was] just helping me create a vision for Cookie,” Darnell told In The Know. “He was like, ‘You’re a performer, you’re a fitness instructor, how can you marry [the] two?’ And I was like, ‘Okay, you know what? You don’t see drag queens in the fitness world. Why don’t I start out?’”

Since then, Darnell has been teaching fitness classes as Cookie D’Lite, who he describes as “the sweetest treat you ever did meet.”

“I would describe Cookie as this vibrant personality,” Darnell explained. “She is very sweet but can also be salty, so especially if you cross that line with her, she’ll definitely get you into shape.”

Through Cookie, Darnell empowers his students to reach their fitness goals. Though working out in drag can be difficult, Darnell is focused on bringing a joyful performance to his students. 

When asked what challenges he faces teaching in drag, Darnell replied, “Definitely trying to not let the makeup run down the face. I make it a whole bit. If my wig falls off, well she couldn’t hang on a little bit tighter so we’re just gonna let her go, but I’m gonna keep going.”

Ultimately, it’s all about the students’ experience. “I’m not thinking about the workout,” Darnell explained. “I’m just thinking about dancing. Putting on a performance for these people. That’s what keeps them going.”

Cookie D’Lite is all about fun, but the persona also helps Darnell feel closer to his mother. Though she passed away when he was 3, he can feel his mom watching over him and supporting him when he performs. 

“Any time I’m performing, my mom is there with me,” Darnell explained. “So I see Cookie as this mother figure for me, and for everyone honestly.”

Darnell’s goal is to empower as many people as possible by performing as Cookie.

“I see Cookie traveling internationally, bringing this light that she possesses; the joy of movement,” he told In The Know. “She’s teaching these fitness classes, she’s performing, she’s speaking at events, and just creating a platform for everyone to enter The Haus of Cookie where you can just live your best life, and have so much fun.”

In The Know is now available on Apple News — follow us here!

If you enjoyed this story, meet Astala Vista, the self-proclaimed ‘crazy cat lady of drag’

More from In The Know:

How TikTok and young creators turned fanfiction into an art form

You can wear MASONgrey’s slip dresses to bed or brunch

Is brown the new black? Shop 5 chocolate colored bags worth coveting now

Nordstrom’s new markdowns include lots of winter dresses on sale for less than $50

Listen to the latest episode of our pop culture podcast, We Should Talk: