His and Hers Fitness
When it comes to working out, men and women are from different planets
His idea of getting in shape is pumping iron -- the more, the better. She'd
rather pull out the yoga mat.
Whose idea of fitness is better?
The experts say there's no one-size-fits-all answer, but each sex could
learn something from the other.
Vive La Difference
Motivation, the experts say, is one major fitness difference between the
Often, "men work out because they like to be bigger," says Vincent
Perez, PT, director of sports therapy at Columbia University Medical Center
Eastside in New York. "Pecs, biceps, quads ? men are after bulk."
"Guys have an agenda," adds Pamela Peeke, MD, author of
Body-for-LIFE for Women: A Woman's Plan for Physical and Mental
Transformation. "They have a specific goal, and there's always a number
involved." She calls this the "Home Depot" approach to working out:
"They have a blueprint and they just want to get it done."
For many men, "working out is a sport, and they do it because it's fun,
it's competitive, and it's something that they've always done," says Lori
Incledon, author of Strength Training for Women. "For women, fitness
is a superficial issue. They do it because it will help them look
Men like to look like they've been working out, says Peeke, "the
sweatier the better. When was the last time you heard a woman say she wanted to
Often, she says, "women think everyone else is looking at them so
they're afraid to put on workout clothes or get out there in public with their
cellulite jiggling. Do men care what they look like when they're working out?
Of course not!"
One thing men and women have in common, according to Incledon: They tend to
overlook the health benefits of exercise.
"Very rarely does anyone think about fitness like they should, which is
just to stay healthy," says Incledon.
Mars vs. Venus Workouts
Once they get past their initial reluctance, women tend to have a balanced
approach to fitness, says Perez. Their workouts are more likely to include a
mix of cardio, strength training, and mind-body practices such as yoga or tai
They're also more likely to seek advice, he says, whether from a personal
trainer or by enrolling in group classes.
"As a man, I hate to say this, but women take instruction better,"
says Perez. "Men are afraid of making a fool of themselves."
"Most men prefer athletic-based activities that don't require dance or
overt coordination," agrees Grace De Simone, a spokesperson for Gold's Gym
International. "They prefer activities that they can call on from their
past, like sports. Women enjoy dance-based activities with toning and
Women may be more apt to take part in group activities because they're
interested in the social aspects of working out and because they feel more
comfortable in a gym when they're with other people, says Cedric Bryant, PhD,
chief exercise physiologist for the American Council on Exercise.