RuPaul became famous for his over-the-top drag performances and later, his VH1 show, “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” But recently, the 51-year-old performer has turned his focus inward, embarking on a hiking regimen in his hometown of Los Angeles that, he says, has changed his life physically, emotionally and spiritually.
We talked to him about what making that change was like, and the impact it’s had on his life.
How did you get into hiking?
It started when I quit smoking. I was around 40, and I knew that I needed to get out of the house and occupy myself. I had friends who would say, “Let’s go on a hike,” and for a while I said no, but then I just changed. If I want to achieve longevity I needed to clean up, and hiking was the doorway to getting out there and getting in touch with my body’s needs, both emotionally and spiritually.
How has your life changed since you picked it up?
I feel great throughout the day because I’ve gotten so much done so early in the morning. I’m 51 years old, and I feel stronger today than I have in my whole life.
It’s also good to experience what a body feels like when it’s working at its full capacity. Your lungs are actually doing what they’re supposed to do.
This is also my time to meditate and to clear my head, work out issues and listen to music and actually get a good workout also.
By hiking, I really fell in love with Los Angeles.
The fact that you can be in one of the most major metropolitan cities in the world and then be in the wilderness, five minutes from the busiest street in the city, is incredible. It’s a great way to center myself in one of the biggest cities in the world.
What kind of music do you listen to while you hike?
I love things that have a beat. I love for it to be invigorating.
Right now I’m into the Rick Ross album, which is “God Forgives, I Don’t.” Yesterday I listened to the album by the Wanted — they are a new boy band — and the day before that, Alexandra Burke and her album “Heartbreak on Hold.”
What else do you do to stay in shape?
I like to do three physical things a day, so I’ll do treadmill at 5 a.m., then go home, do some meditating or yoga on my own, then go to Franklin Canyon. I also bicycle all over the place, and sometimes I’ll drive out up to Malibu and walk along the beach early and watch the sun come up.
Last night I went roller-skating. I swim, I dance — you name it. I just like to keep it moving. I think the key to getting older is being flexible, and that’s both literally and figuratively.
Did being on TV and being so public change the way you worked out or the way you thought about exercise and being in shape?
Not really. I’ve always been fit and thin. My heath consciousness came from turning 40. I had stepped away from show business around 2000 and put my focus on real life. The hike is so spiritual — once you get your heart rate up there, you find that place where you understand that you are an amazing body, an amazing machine that can do so much.