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Sex and Exercise : The Male Perspective

April 02, 1989|ERIK FAIR | Erik Fair is a writer and mascot of Zahava's exercise class in Laguna Beach

Susan Littwin's humor column criticizing men in aerobics classes ("Walk Like a Man . . . Out of My Aerobics Class," Feb. 5) provoked many unusually passionate reader responses. Here is one man's point of view .

I'M MIDDLE-AGED and, if I wasn't hypertensive and unemployed, could probably consider myself a healthy, productive member of the middle class. But my big problem is that I'm male. It's tough being a man in the predominantly female world of aerobic exercise. It's tough because Susan Littwin is absolutely right: Men are lousy at aerobics.

In her article, Littwin discussed a number of possible reasons for the clearly inferior performance of men in aerobics classes: Our limitless capacity for "adorable bumbling," our lack of the female hormone estrogen (which, studies show, is associated with greater verbal skills and muscular coordination) and the fact that we value force (heck, yeah) over grace. Throw in our general arrogance and aggressive body language, and the case against us is fairly well made. It's almost as if we men are programmed to swagger into class as if we own the place, plop ourselves in the front row, then thrash and flail about until we have produced a small lake on the floor.

The simple truth is--and I'm surprised Littwin didn't just come right out and say it--women are genetically superior to men in every conceivable way. They always have been, they always will be, and any man with an eye for the obvious will openly admit it.

As proof, I offer this: Despite the irritating behavior of male aerobicizers, no woman (Littwin included) has ever publicly suggested that men be banned from aerobics classes. Would men be as generous if the situation were reversed? Most certainly not. And, as several episodes of "Star Trek" have clearly shown, the trait of generosity is closely associated with genetic superiority.

Therefore, as a gesture of good will to long-suffering women in aerobics classes, I would like to offer a "Code of Conduct" for male participants. While I am aware that my suggestions may not be as cogent as Littwin's (I am, after all, only a man), I do believe that they will help spread the word to those who need to hear it. It is, of course, common knowledge that men really listen only to other men.

I. GENERAL.

Yo, men! Strictly observe all of these rules, and you will achieve the ultimate: to which you can possibly aspire: The women in your aerobics class will adopt you as their mascot.

II. DRESS.

A. If you have a cute fanny, wear tights: Nothing annoys women more than having to stare (like a man) at baggy sweats to admire your tush.

B. If you don't have a cute fanny, don't worry about it. Women are especially sympathetic to men with fat fannies because statistics compiled by me indicate that 90% of all women think their own fannies are too fat.

C. If you perspire lightly, or even moderately, wear a tank top. Women in aerobics classes experience "upper-body envy" and are addicted to that experience. Deprive them of the sight of your big chunky arms, chest and shoulders, and they will secretly hate you. If you don't believe this, try finding a woman--any woman--who doesn't wear shoulder pads.

D. Wear stylish sweatbands on your head and wrists: This reduces "puddling"--which is offensive to 80% of all women--and gives the impression that you are more fashion-conscious than the average slovenly man.

III. DEMEANOR.

A. Try not to look smug or cocksure. Hunch your shoulders (as if expecting a well-deserved blow to the head), and slink to the back of the class. If a woman smiles or offers a friendly greeting, turn up your palms and shrug.

B. Hang around the small klatches of women that always form about 10 minutes before the session. Listen carefully to what is said, but do not speak until spoken to. You will learn a great deal about babies and curtains. Plus, you will gain insight into the shortcomings of men in general and certain other women in particular.

C. In your struggle to keep pace with the class, focus your gaze on the center of gravity (CG) of the woman immediately in front of you. Quiet admiration of her CG is permitted, but do not, under any circumstances, stare at her bottom. While men do not see the difference between these two activities, women do. They insist on the former and are reviled by the latter.

D. Strive to overcome the shortcomings of your sex. Above all, don't be intimidated by the women in your class. A recent survey of a prominent Laguna Beach exercise studio clearly indicates that most women kind of like having men around--even in aerobics classes.

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