I realized late in college that running regularly on a treadmill made me slim and chipper. It was because I had these jeans. They were tight. And white. They were tight, white jeans. I wanted to wear them so bad. After a month of working out, I tried them on and they didn’t just fit: they looked killer. I’ve been keen on exercise ever since.
But the gym is smelly. Shortly after moving to Chicago, I abandoned the gym and became a Serious Yoga Person and enjoyed my Serious Yoga for many years. But yoga is expensive. So not long ago, I found myself a rudderless ship. I needed a captain. Who would stretch my hammies? What mode of exercise would I find that would make it possible for me to still eat the frosting off of donuts and have bacon?
Well, a few months ago, a new day dawned for my hammies because I found love. I found a woman named Anna Renderer and I love her in my living room, all alone.
Anna Renderer is the lead fitness instructor-slash-host of PopSugar Fitness, a division of the PopSugar lifestyle brand. (Like you, I barely know what that term means.) There are hundreds of exercise videos on PopSugar Fitness’s YouTube channel, all around 10-60 minutes. Bikini body workouts, circuit training, ballet, weight-training, pilates, yoga, cardio “blast”, dance — any workout you want to do, it’s likely PopSugar has one for you and Anna is going to be there when you click over. Sometimes she’s the lead trainer, sometimes she’s one of the students taking the class from a guest instructor. Either way, Anna is there, smiling with those endearing dimples, calling out, “Yeah, guys! You’re rockin’ it! Wow, this is really gettin’ at those abs, right? I’m feelin’ that! Oh, my goodness! Come on, just one more, guys, I know you can do it! Awesome!”
My favorite thing is when Anna’s leading the workout and she turns to the other two girls in the room and uses her conspiratorial voice. During a tricep kickback she’ll say, voice a little quieter than usual, “Do you guys feel that? In the tricep? Isn’t that awesome?”
Never in my life have I enjoyed death by squat jumps so completely. Anna is tireless. She is cracking with energy the entire time and you don’t hate her. It’s not fake. She is actually cheerful and she actually wants you to succeed in your exercise today. How do I know? Oh, I know. I’ve hosted hundreds of video tutorials. Hundreds. I know what level of energy it takes to do that sort of work and I never taught jumping jacks in my how-to videos. The girl is legit — and when you’re doing knees-and-toes, you need legit. You don’t want to know what knees-and-toes are because they are very hard.
PopSugar isn’t paying me to write this. (The videos are free and I don’t advertise on PaperGirl so I don’t know how they’d pay me if they offered.*) I just want Anna Renderer to know that she’s doing a good job because her job involves a black hole and that can really feel lousy. The black hole is the unblinking eye of the camera and I know it well. There’s no way for Anna to know what/how people are really doing at home when she tapes an episode. There’s no real-time audience feedback. When you tape a class for the Internet, it’s just you, the red “Record” button, and what you hope is happening in the void. Anna, it’s happening. You torched my quads, girl. You’re doing a great job and you make me want to work out. Use that conspiratorial voice more. It’s the best.
*If there is PopSugar promo merch, I would absolutely love a hoodie. Just in case you have some of those things in boxes someplace, I would wear that thing everywhere.