After spending some time in the corporate world, my best friend and I were laughing yesterday about how unrealistic it is to see gym workout scenes in movies and television shows with women who are supposedly high-powered achievers.
For example, my friend, who works for a fairly large political firm but likes to work out at the Y, laughs at the way Boston gyms are portrayed in movies like "Fever Pitch". The film showed Drew Barrymore and her affluent friends standing around a punching bag in a high-end gym in broad daylight, and eventually Drew punches her friend. Barrymore is supposedly an upwardly mobile ad exec. The ad execs I know either
a) go jogging at dawn, before work, because they don't even have time to go to the gym to use the treadmills before their day starts at 8:30 a.m.
b) exercise in the evening, and usually do so in a less-than-lackadaisical way, choosing to either slam their bodies up down on a cardio machine, sweat like mad in an intense power yoga studio, or work out in a scrappy boxing gym where there are real coaches to train them.
If you're a woman who's interested in working out, you aren't going to waste a lunch hour getting hot and sweaty if you're not going to take it seriously, because you have to blow-dry your hair and apply makeup again. For these 3 women to stand around on a weekday chatting around a punching bag (and ask yourself: when was the last time you saw a punching bag in any gym?) is insane. This kind of character would be more likely spend lunch eating salad at her desk and checking her email, because that's obviously where her priorities are at.
Which brings me to my next point: chicks like that do not box. At all. Even for pretends. And if they did so, they would not do it with their friends. Chicks like that run on elliptical machines and read People. They do ridiculous exercises involving colored balls better left in the giant grocery store cages from which they emerged. The punching bag scene only exists so that Drew can punch her catty friend in the face to stop her constant carping, but chicks like that don't punch their friends. They pointedly forget to invite said friends to the gym in the first place, because women gymgoers don't like to work out with judgemental peers. They like to work out with people who are in slightly worse shape than they are and who won't mind if they jam out to their iPods instead of talking. And any girl who has the gumption to get sweaty at lunch and the cajones to punch her friends in the face when they bug her--if she boxes at all, she boxes alone (see "Girlfight").
Meanwhile, as I am a yoga practitioner and have abandoned the gym for the reasons listed above, I think the portrayal of yoga on "Sex and the City" is pretty silly. The four women are almost constantly talking in their yoga class, which is impossible to do in a regular yoga class, because
a) You're supposed to breathe. That's like Rule Numero Uno of yoga. Even first-timers are schooled in this basic precept. Talking equals failure to breathe.
b) These four women always seem to be somewhere close to the front row, which is a statement of self that says "I'm okay with you staring at me for the whole class, because I am really yogic and won't mess up." Someone who makes that kind of class placement decision would never talk in class, because they've unconsciously set themselves up to be a good example. It's weird, but true.
c) The stressed-out students who populate the kinds of studios where wealthy, stylish women would go to practice would never stand for four people talking amongst themselves. They would give them withering glares, then start to breathe pointedly like horses in a stable; eventually, one of them would get a foot in the face during Flip Dog.
My final point: women with bodies of the caliber shown on "Fever Pitch" and "Sex and the City" would be unable to maintain their killer physiques with these poor workout habits. The real actresses who play them most likely have grueling workout regimes, the details of which would be too horrible to discuss here. I'm surprised that they don't throw down these scripts and say, "No! My character is supposedly a heartless, ruthless corporate headhunter who chews men and women up and spits them out. She would never set foot in a yoga studio, and more importantly, she would never leave the gym until her 1,000 crunches and 50 lunges were done. Only Rosie O'Donnell could act like this at the gym and still be a realistic character."
I'm just sayin'. If you're gonna represent a powerful working woman like the ones I know and love, do it right. Give her an iPod with something borderline-dorky blasting, like the Black Eyed Peas or Britney, make her wear her favorite black sweats and her "Boston Marathon" t-shirt from '03 instead of a perfect Lululemon outfit, and let her sweat. And if she must be in a boxing situation, remember this: real women box alone.