Photos by Katie Williams
One of Northeastern’s more overlooked offerings for the male population, Marino’s group fitness program carries the stigma that it’s women only. While all of the classes are gender-neutral, male participation across all disciplines is low, making actually signing up a daunting task.
I went where no man has gone before, and after some comprehensive detective work, I’ve compiled a list of the best group fitness classes for guys, complete with my in-class thoughts.
“Alright folks, we’re gonna come off of that flat road and go right into a hill. On my mark!”
The strobe lights swirled around the room. House music blared in my ears. The sweat in my eyes made me angry – angry at the hill. Teeth clenched, hand on dial, I was ready for the hill. I was pissed.
Cycling is, in my opinion, the most challenging group fitness workout when it comes to endurance, and features blaring music, neon lights and occasional moves, like “booty taps,” that make you question your presence there as a man.
Should you stay, it’s actually a lot of fun. Prior to going, I used to just hop on a bike with my iPod and try not to make eye contact with anyone, but having a group of people who are equally tired and an instructor who shouts motivational phrases at you really changes the game.
There I was, on the banks of the Yangtze River. The cool water lapped at my heels as I stood upright in the soft river mud. I transitioned to a warrior one pose just as a distant fisherman reeled a large catfish into his tiny boat, his sinewy arms struggling to tame his catch.
I bent down, picked my Husky Card out of the mud and stepped back into 2014.
Yoga was probably the most gender-neutral class I encountered, though guys were still far outnumbered. I was in a dimly lit room, there were ethereal sounds flowing throughout and, for the majority of the experience, we were instructed to have our eyes closed. There was no embarrassment about being a yoga newbie. No anxious glancing around. In my mind I was on the bank of the Yangtze River, my poses were perfect, my mind was centered. I was carefree.
And that’s the beauty of yoga: There’s no opportunity to embarrass yourself. Sure, some dingus might judge you from the other side of the studio, but when you’re doing a child’s pose in 10th century China you’ve got to ask yourself: Does it really matter?
Tears, crystalline under the white lights of the studio, streamed down my cheeks as I was whisked away to the next station, the instructor barking all the way. I had tried to explain that I hadn’t jumped rope since the dreamlike days of my youth, but it was to no avail.
I, never a quitter, couldn’t stop there. Determined to prove her wrong, I picked up my medicine ball, wiped the tears away and did my first crunch.
Probably the most intensive class on the list, Boot Camp is like Stetson West stir fry: a little bit of everything. It began with me and a group of my female peers doing some laps around the track, which looked, more or less, like a bearded man chasing a dozen women through Marino. We then descended to one of the workout rooms for a smattering of cardio exercises that I fell drastically behind on.
I have to pause here to advise any male readers who decide to try Boot Camp not to look in the mirrors during the cardio section, as you will never see yourself look like more of an idiot. It’s not the moves themselves that look odd; it’s the out-of-place man in the center of the room who’s 10 steps behind everyone else.
The meat of the class came in the form of stations with various themes, such as core, weight training and cardio. From jump rope to medicine ball training, nothing is off limits in Boot Camp. Be prepared to sweat — whether you’re male or female.