By Danielle Douglas-Gabriel | October 29, 2014
A few months ago, a pretty remarkable thing happened. The strength training class I lead, once a bastion for women seeking Michelle Obama arms, was overrun with men.
I’ve always had two or three dedicated dudes sweating it out to my Bruno Mars playlist, but they were always in the minority. Most men at my gym stick to the treadmills or weight machines, avoiding the thumping club music and three-count instructions in classes.
Classes full of women can be a little intimidating, but the guys who wound up in mine were game. They all told me they were looking for the same thing: variety.
It is easy to fall into a rut with solo workouts. At some point, you might find yourself doing the same exercises or training the same group of muscles. But with the wide array of courses available at most gyms — kickboxing, boot camp, spin or yoga — there is always something new to try.
“People hear group fitness, and a lot of guys think there’s like 50 women in leotards doing step aerobics, so it’s not for them,” said Anne Mahlum, founder of Solidcore, a fitness studio in Adams Morgan. “We focus on the idea of team fitness, using different words so people don’t create that stereotype, because our workout is hard and intense.”
Peter Anthony, 49, wasn’t thrown off by being one of two or three guys in the class at Solidcore. But the workout — a collection of slow, controlled moves on machines called Megaformers (think pilates on steroids) — made him a little apprehensive.
“It’s unlike any of the traditional workout programs I had tried in the past,” said Anthony, who has been taking classes for almost a year. “But if you take the class two or three times a week, you can see noticeable changes in your body — leaner, stronger muscles.”
One of Anthony’s classmates, Bo Huge-Jensen, was reluctant to join a class with a bunch of women, but he relented because his doctor recommended he strengthen his core to relieve his back pain.
“Here I am, an alpha male going into this class, but my perception was quickly squashed,” the 47-year-old said. “I have some buddies who were all, ‘Are you sure, Bo?’ But I told them to give it a shot. . . . They’re all in and almost don’t want other people to know,to keep the class to themselves.”
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