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What that translates to are workouts with an emphasis on core strength, balance, joint integrity, hand-eye coordination — and very little rest. Our first session went from a five-minute treadmill walk to rounds of jumping jacks to "dirty dogs" (a crouching thing in which you bend your leg out like a dog urinating) to tossing around a medicine ball to walking lunges with dumbbells to a bench press on a Swiss ball to — I honestly can't remember because I had to cut short our first session when I started seeing stars. (I don't recommend skipping breakfast before attempting a Todd Durkin–inspired workout.) I plopped down on the closest exercise bike and asked for a minute. Then I went into the restroom because I thought I was going to vomit. But instead I just sat in there trying to lose the dizziness. I glanced at the mirror. My face looked like a glass of milk.
That experience and the subsequent soreness served to hammer home just how little my bullshit workout routine had been doing for my body as a whole. It had basically called out a number of muscles that probably assumed they would never be asked to function in any meaningful way.
At our second session ($55–$65, depending on the package), McQuinn took me through what a normal person, a person whose body was not in a state of prolonged atrophy, would have completed on a first visit. He's a fan of TRX, suspension-training products made by a company born of the Navy SEALs. Essentially, you use some simple tools along with your body weight to achieve better results than you get from exercise machines. I simulated pushups while standing by tying a cord to a bar above and behind me, lowering myself and pushing myself back upright. Toward the end, I placed around my waist a gigantic rubber band, which was tied to a pole, and then I ran forward as far as I could before being pulled backward. McQuinn likes to stick to a formula of threes: Do a "push" exercise (like a pushup), a "pull" exercise (a pullup), and then something for the lower body (a squat or a lunge).
Again, all this was done at a pretty rapid-fire pace. That's part of McQuinn's philosophy of efficiency. "To me, it makes more sense to do five minutes of intense exercise, where your whole body is working, than do 40 easy minutes on the treadmill," he said. "Plus, at least to me, it's way more fun to use these fitness toys and techniques that a quarterback would use to train than to sit at some exercise machine."
I suppose it might go without saying that I'm not a particularly flexible person. There has never been a time in my adult life when I've been able to touch my toes. Also, the idea of sitting in a roomful of attractive women and looking like a gangly, sweaty, uncoordinated clown has never seemed like a confidence-forward way to spend an hour. So I have resisted yoga, even as more and more people I know and respect have embraced it. The way I see it, if I'm going to fail at exercise, I'll fail in the privacy of my home or at the gym at the most off-peak hours available.
But the point of this project was to get me out of my comfort zone, so I scheduled a private session with a yoga instructor at Maya Yoga, 215 West 18th Street, in the Crossroads District ($75 for an hour). I figured such a consultation would limit my humiliation to one witness, as opposed to an entire class. But the minute I showed up, I saw that my plan was ill-conceived: The instructor, a woman named Jordan Ryan, was preposterously beautiful. And now there was nowhere for me to hide.