The title slide of Yoga for Regular Guys features a professional wrestling logo, which is a reminder that you’re going to be learning from a professional, not some idiot off the street who doesn’t know the first thing about yoga. The host is “Diamond” Dallas Page, a wrestler from the ‘90s whose gimmick was positivity—his catchphrase and signature move was the Self-High Five, which is exactly what it sounds like. After retiring from wrestling, he became a motivational speaker and yoga instructor.
The participant in this experiment is a stickbug-looking hipster idiot who woke up before his friends one morning and couldn’t go back to sleep. He played two years of junior varsity basketball in high school. He went to a state university where he attended over 50% of the home football games. He is a fan of the Seattle Seahawks and the Miami Heat, and he watches ESPN to get the news. He owns a copy of Infinite Jest that he will never read. He treats women slightly worse than they deserve because they seem to find that more attractive and he’ll do whatever it takes to avoid being alone. He laughs at fart jokes and also at farts. He drives an efficient but unimpressive car. He eats fast food. He eats chicken wings: mild wings at home and the hottest available wings when in public. He says “bro.” He says “NNNNNNN” when singing along to a rap song that says ‘nigga.’ He has said, “I love you” to four girls. He makes them say it first. He has slept with anywhere between ten and thirty other girls. He did not say, “I love you” to them. He runs twice a week. He fails to regulate his intake of carbohydrates. He doesn’t understand impressionism. He has an unimpressive apartment. He worries the length of this paragraph compared to the first will convey narcissism. He is, for all intents and purposes, a regular guy. He is me.
The setting is an apartment in New Mexico. It is 101 degrees Fahrenheit. The swamp cooler provides a light breeze indoors; its overworked engine will provide enough noise to muffle any grunts, groans or profanities that result from said experiment. Ideally, this noise will mask any emasculation of the participant from the sleeping non-participant in the other room—a non-participant who, at present, possesses a nonzero quantity of attraction and respect for the participant.
The participant has unrolled his yoga mat. He will be taking notes in real-time.
T-0:30 Dallas launching into some light intro banter, then out of nowhere comes, “You’ll feel younger and have more energy. Flexibility is youth, in body and mind.” That seems profound. I don’t know. At the moment I can’t figure out if I’m supposed to be looking at the floor, as “child position” dictates, or looking at the TV, which is the only way I can follow what’s going on. Maybe I can wax metaphysical with Dallas after I reconcile the duality of where to put my fucking head.
T-2:30 Dallas says, “Reach your hands into the air high, real high… this one’s called the TOUCHDOWN. That’s one you guys can relate to, the Touchdown.” I’ve never done yoga before, but I suspect this program is just normal yoga with overcompensating, masculine names affixed to the positions. Is there a market for that? Are there guys who are interested in yoga, but afraid the position names would make them feel “gay”? How tenuous must one’s sexuality be to require such vigilance—and why?
This position consists only of reaching above my head, which scores pretty low on the “gayness” scale, but I suppose it’s nice of Dallas to suggest this is somehow football related and thus nothing to worry about.
T-3:00 Dallas again: “Lift your arms into the air, make the sign of the Diamond Dallas ‘Diamond Cutter,’ then bring them down into the sign of the cross, and then bring ‘em down and flex and Hulk It Out, brother! Yeah!” Truly the Holy Trinity of Yoga. He insists we all release a feral yell as we flex, which I’m not doing because the thought of the girl in the other room waking up to this is humiliating as is. Briefly considering if being unable to comply with Yoga for Regular Guys makes me a sub-regular guy. More seriously considering if maybe I’m uncomfortable with expressions of masculinity?
T-4:00 Basically just repeating the same low impact positions here, so I’ll take a moment to explain my fellow yoga-ers (yogis?) onscreen:
On either side of Dallas are women with some big ass titties hanging out. This is important both functionally—as women, they are the most likely to know how to do the yoga moves properly—and stylistically, as they give the program the kind of joie de vivre not typically found outside of Hooters (a restaurant regular guys like myself would frequent).
There are two men behind them: the first is an out-of-shape, older man, who looks exactly like a 1940s boxing coach – complete with skullcap and sagging jowls. I’m skeptical that this man can bend as opposed to break, but as a regular guy who doesn’t know the first thing about yoga, he might be fine. The other guy is a gay man wearing a bandana. I don’t know that he’s gay, but the impression I get is that we, the viewers, are meant to assume that this is a gay man who regularly practices yoga and has come to try out Dallas’ new Power Yoga. I feel nervous for him.
T-6:00 Doing a ton of Touchdowns. Mostly just reaching in various directions. Pretty relaxing. Wondering why I didn’t do yoga before.
T-6:45 Currently in a Huddle Up. In this position, I’m crouched with my knees at a 90-degree angle while I lean forward and wrap my palms around my elbows. I have never seen a football player huddle up like this—normally they just kind of stand there—but with my ass this far in the air I’m definitely feeling a little feminine, so I’ll suspend disbelief.
T-7:00 Dallas: “Keep those knees there. Now squat and roll your shoulders back. Pull up into a Barback.” That’s a big time fumble, Dallas. Here I am huddling up and scoring Touchdowns and Hulking Out, and now I’m inside a Barback? I’m bent over and thinking how “barback” is one letter away from “bareback.” Now I’m thinking about that scene from Brokeback Mountain with the spitty fingers and are these kinds of thoughts normal? And, you know… I’m not really feeling the Yoga for Regular Guys vibe right now.
Luckily, after a few repetitions of the word, Dallas seems to realize the problem and compensates by saying, “This is a great yoga babe position.” The camera cuts to one of the women’s seriously exposed cleavage. The woman is visibly stunned by this and hesitates a moment before leaning down next time.
T-8:00 A lot of time spent in the squat position, which I’m having a hard time doing. The onscreen lady models have no problem with this position. Not feeling great about myself.
T-9:00 Catcher position to Thunderbolt position. More life lessons from Dallas: “Cheat until you don’t have to cheat no more.”
T-10:00 Definitely shaking even though I’m supposed to be “relaxing my glutes” and moving from the Cobra to the Downward Dog.
T-13:00 “If you’re shaking, that’s okay. That just means you’re turning stuff on.” If I am certain about anything, it is that I’m currently turning nothing and nobody on. I’m already mentally rehearsing explanations in case the girl in the other room wakes up.
T-14:39 How the fuck is Doctor Skullcap doing better than me?
T-15:30 Runner’s lunge to extending leg out behind in a Three-Leg Dog.
T-16:20 “What if we’re shaking the whole time?” one of the girls asks, which is meant to affirm the rigor of the workout.
Dallas considers this. “Well,” he says, “there’s a good chance you’re probably gonna fall down, then.” There’s a long pause where Dallas reconsiders the motivational value of his impromptu response, followed by the late addition of “and then you just get back up again!” This makes me feel better about falling but not about my athletic ability in general. I figured the twice-weekly runs would’ve put me ahead of most regular guys, but now I just don’t know.
T-16:30 Lunging Touchdown or, as Dallas likes to call it, “Superstar!” which is a reference to a 1990s SNL character—a catholic schoolgirl—which I am now apparently pantomiming. Congratulations Dallas, on making me feel both old and effete.
T-17:30 Dallas won’t stop lunging or saying “Superstar!” Wondering about Dallas’ DVD collection provides a few moments of respite.
T-18:00 “If you’re shaking like Johnny, you know you’re turnin’ stuff on.” Haha, stupid fucking Johnny in the back row with his shaky legs. Projecting my insecurities onto him makes me feel like a regular guy! (This also serves as the program’s “Look, the normal yoga dude in the back can’t cut it with our POWER YOGA!” moment, which I suspected was the reason he was included in the first place).
T-18:07 One of the instructors peels a collapsed Doctor Skullcap from the floor. My own yoga hasn’t gotten any better, but witnessing others’ failures makes me feel like I’m okay. I’m sweaty and tired but despite a poor performance, I’m being made to feel good about myself – just like sex!
T-19:30 An instructor just waved a finger in front of Doctor Skullcap to see if he’s conscious. He’s shaking a lot and I’m starting to feel bad – it’s just like sex.
T-21:00 LEAVE DOCTOR SKULLCAP ALONE, HE’S HAD ENOUGH.
T-21:05 I DON’T WANT TO CAT ARCH OR BAREBACK OR HULK OUT ANYMORE, IT HURTS.
T-22:00 Broken Table? On my knees with my left arm and right leg out? Every time I try this, I just careen over to one side or the other like a gangly, drunk Etsy-clad mantis tumbling out of the back door of some Brooklyn dive. I thought yoga was spiritual?
T-22:30 “Now reach out from the Broken Table as if to shake someone’s hand.” WELL SELF-CONFIDENCE, IT’S BEEN A PLEASURE KNOWING YOU.
T-24:00 “The way we’re revving you up and bringing you down is just training you for Fat Burner and Fat Burner Plus yoga.” Oh, so I can barely finish the warm-up. Good to know.
T-24:10 “Now, just come around to your back and we’re just gonna loosen ya up, and head ya off to the bar.” Apparently, the regular guy does yoga to pre-game. I’d consider this an embarrassingly pandering and chauvinistic gesture if I weren’t considering getting smashed on Jameson post-yoga, just to feel strong again.
T-25:00 Basically laying on my back now. Occasionally thrusting upwards or grabbing my feet.
T-26:26 The Figure Four Hip Stretch definitely feels like “real yoga,” or my concept of it, as it takes three steps to bend my legs and hands around each other into the stretch. I really go all out in maintaining this position because I know the program is ending and this feels like the first position at which it would be acceptable to fail.
T-27:00 Yoga mat could not conceivably be sweatier. We’ve reached peak saturation.
T-27:05 Doctor Skullcap, “You just know you’re doing the right thing here!” I wouldn’t have ascribed a moral aspect to this program, but since Skullcap and I are brothers in misery, I’m inclined to trust him.
T-28:00 Someone shouts, “Your pelvis is alive!” which is a troublesome thought.
T-28:45 Dead Man Pose, which is essentially what I’ve been doing the entire time. We lie on our backs for a while before doing a walk-up to a seated position.
T-29:10 “All right guys, you’ve just finished the 20-miunte program.” I notice the timestamp but I’m too tired to be snarky.
T-29:30 “At the end of most sessions, most yogis will say ‘Namaste,’” Dallas says. “But here, as you can see, it’ll always be about the T & A. BANG!” Cut to black.
T-29:50 Voiceover explains that T & A stands for Tone and Attitude, not Tits and Ass.
CONCLUSION. Despite being a decent workout, I’m not sure Yoga for Regular Guys delivers what it promises. I felt embarrassed throughout the program and, while not every guy will be perpetually concerned about being walked in on, the general concept behind the program was that a regular, non-yoga dude could get into yoga without going to a real class and being made to feel weak or uncoordinated or embarrassed. These are emotions you’ll feel nonstop throughout the Regular Guy workout. That’s to say nothing of the renamed positions; I don’t understand or condone the use of “gay” as a pejorative, but it strikes me as homophobic to be so worried about your sexuality that you have to change the name of a yoga position from the “flower” to the “Tom Brady” or whatever.
If the girl in the other room had come out and seen me doing normal yoga, there’s a chance she might have been impressed and even joined me. Maybe she’d have thought it was cool. I mean, she does own a yoga mat. But you know what I’m sure she wouldn’t think is cool? Shouting and flexing in front of a TV in an empty hot room. When it comes to the women whose judgment its customers so fear, Yoga for Regular Guys is a lose-lose. If the women love yoga, this will be embarrassing. If they hate yoga, this will still be embarrassing. What I’m doing by choosing this program, as opposed to going to a real class, will alienate women no matter what their yoga preference. I could be doing this in a room full of fit women and chill dudes instead of being in the dark. I could be exhaling slowly and deliberately instead of holding my breath for fear of being discovered. I could be doing regular yoga. I could feel like a regular guy.