by Taylor Antrim– Vogue
When did I realize my wife’s workouts were harder than my own? I think it was the day she brought home a Jillian Michaels DVD. I was just heading out on one of those 40-minute slow jogs, and there was my wife holding a couple of hand weights, facing a bright-eyed drill sergeant on the flatscreen.
The DVD was called 30-Day Shred, which sounded intimidating, but like most men I’ve been socialized to think workout videos are basically jumping jacks and leg lifts. “You should try this,” Liz said. “No thanks!” I replied. But when I returned I was the one who’d barely broken a sweat. Liz was nearly catatonic with exhaustion.
So my interest was piqued. I tried Jillian, who shredded my ego (if not my abs). The video was interval training—push-ups, burpees, lunges, and, yes, jumping jacks!—and try as I might I never could quite get through the hardest routine. Sessions with Jillian left me with an endorphin rush, trembling muscles, and the disconcerting idea that my wife knew something about exercise that I didn’t.
By that point Liz was already bored of Jillian—and had moved on to fitness apps. “You should try this one,” she said: Nike Training Club, which offered dozens of video-led workouts that you can take to the gym with you. Nike’s app has evolved several times since then—it now seems to have a more unisex marketing plan—but when I jumped on the bandwagon it was pretty clearly geared toward women. The trainers on my smartphone were these tiny blonde killers. And I struggled to follow their orders—now in public, alongside Liz—increasingly certain I’d been working out wrong my entire life.
Studies show that men and women exercise differently—with men largely preferring to go at it alone in the gym, while women flock to group classes. Evidence of the more anecdotal variety tells me that men think they’re on the better path. Just the other day, a couple of finance bros in the locker room were boasting about their free-weight session. “Dude, that was tough,” one said. “So tough,” the other said. Neither looked especially tired. I’d like to see them try SLT.
That’s the latest thing I’ve picked up from Liz—after following her lead into Pilates. It’s a logical next step, a more or less deadly variation of a reformer class. I had to get over a bit of wince-inducing lingo—the machine is called the Megaformer and there are moves called “the mermaid” and “the scrambled egg”—and I could do without the music pounding behind the trainer’s instructions. But the class is excruciating: 50 minutes of leg and core work that leaves me dizzy.
And there are men in the room! One or two. So maybe more guys like me are catching on. I don’t jog anymore. I still exercise on my own from time to time, but I also vie for in-demand SLT reservations—and pay attention to what my wife is sampling next. Dance-oriented classes are where I draw the line—Pure Barre doesn’t sound like my bag—but you never know! 2018 resolution: Workout like your wife. It’s harder.