One of my favorite things to fantasize about when I’m working out is inviting a bunch of my male friends to a Physique 57 class with me.
I imagine that the most fit of them would last through the arm exercises that begin the class, get confident, and then collapse two minutes into the inner thigh routine.
I saw it happen to a man yesterday. A rolly-polly man. He is the first man that I have ever, ever seen take a class, in the six months since I first started.
He walked into the room wearing a white t-shirt and black cotton work-out shorts. A big no-no for two reasons:
1. 100% cotton, even black cotton, sweats through quickly. Very quickly. So quickly that within seconds of starting a Physique 57 class, you have a map of fat rolls writ across your belly in straight lines, and a crack stain dividing your ass cheeks.
2. You spend a lot of time on your knees in Physique 57, bouncing up and down on your thighs while you fling your arms in the air. This act is known as “Barbie Doll Torture for Anorexics,” and it hurts like a motherfucker. For this, long pants are advisable.
I watched him as he walked over to the weight bins. He picked up no less than 4 ten-pound weights, and 2 other ones that looked like boomerangs. “Fool,” I thought to myself, gleefully, as I watched him.
Physique 57 is one of those celebrity-endorsed exercise classes that only women in New York and Los Angeles will be familiar with. It is extremely high impact, and extremely expensive. One 57-minute group class costs $35 a person. The only people who attend them—the rolly-polly man excluded—are wealthy, white, skinny girls wearing 2.5 carat wedding bands and Lululemon workout clothing. Every single one of those bitches is my enemy.
It is based on the Lotte Berk method, which reputedly stems from ballet and dance, and makes your body leaner. The class consists of four disparate sections—arms, thighs, ass, abs—and gyrating your hips, and it is tortuous. Running the half marathon was child’s play in comparison to making it through one of these classes without stopping.
I started taking it when I stopped drinking for a month in January, to fill the empty void, and got somewhat addicted. During the class, you are in so much pain that you forget that anything else exists. Your legs shake uncontrollably. You collapse on the floor while doing push-ups. I never once think about checking my iPhone. But afterwards, your body is so flooded with endorphins that even though you’re sore for days afterwards, you can’t wait to go back. I imagine the feeling is akin to giving birth.
Which brings me to my theory. Physique 57 is not necessarily uniquely catered to women. It’s just that women have a much higher pain threshold than men. Women can make it through 57 minutes of agony without flinching. A man, five minutes in, will pussy out.
Because every fucking month, like clockwork, a woman spends at least two days—if you’re like me—in agony. You wake up in the middle of the night with cramps so bad that you have to walk around the house, clutching your belly and moaning, until the 1000 mg of ibuprofen you took starts to kick in. Your back hurts, your ass hurts, your nipples hurt, you are so tired you can barely make it up the stairs. Everyone annoys you. Sitting on the toilet bowl for less than twenty minutes at a time is unthinkable.
When I was younger, the pain was so bad that I would start throwing up. My mom let me stay home from school. As I’ve gotten older—and the lining of my uterus has started to die, feebly—it’s less severe.
A Physique 57 class is fucking child’s play to that first, pain-killer free 20 minutes when I get my period, I’ll tell you that.
Which is why, when the instructor told us to put a volleyball in between our legs yesterday, and start doing squats in four second increments to our heels, not a single girl flinched. For an indeterminate amount of time, we stayed there, slightly switching positions. At one point, sweat dripping in rivers down my face, my body balanced on my toes, my muscles started wiggling, and I looked like I was doing an impression of Michel J. Fox drowning in a tar pit.
When we switched over to asses, I looked for the rolly-polly man, and saw that he was lying on the ground, mopping his towel with his forehead, weakly lifting a bottle of water to his lips.
I grinned to myself, and turned to the woman standing next to me. She bared her teeth, and snarled so that I would know to stay away. Everyone becomes an animal in that room, reduced as we are to primal pain.
Later in the evening, over shrimp gumbo, I told DEH and our friend Alex that I want to bring all of my guy friends to Physique 57 for my 30th birthday party. Then I explained my period theory to him, and tried to re-enact my Michael J. Fox moment. Not in pain, it was an epic fail.
“I don’t really get what you’re talking about right now,” DEH said, inching slowly away from the table.
Alex, also a girl, took it as an opportunity to launch into a full-scale discussion of feminine concerns, which turned into ranking whether or not going down on a girl when she has her period is a 3 or 5 on a fetish scale. (With 1 being missionary style sex, and 10 being a Cleveland Steamer).
I won’t tell you where I finally weighed in. But I will tell you that if you love me at all, and you are a male, you will come with me to a Physique 57 class, so that I can laugh maniacally as you suffer, sweating through your 100% cotton gym shorts, while the girls around you squat and twist in a primitive dance of self-flagellation.