Review of “Work Out”

The Cast of Work Out

*Warning: Some Spoilers*

Bravo, the cable channel where “queer” has more often than not been synonymous with “gay men,” finally has something to offer those who object to the self-styled lesbian-and-gay-friendly network’s paucity of lesbians: their new summer docudrama Work Out stars lesbian Jackie Warner. Not only is this woman out–and in a visible relationship–she’s in charge.

And how.

Jackie Warner, 37, owns and operates Sky Sport and Spa, an exclusive rooftop sports medicine and fitness facility in Beverly Hills. With a 360 degree view of Los Angeles and its environs, the scenery competes for attention with the hard bodies and beautiful faces within. And it’s all her baby.

Confident, skilled, and determined, Warner’s stated goal is to build the best team of trainers possible to help create a place that changes people’s lives for the better. Like their buff, blonde, and tan boss, the seven trainers featured in Work Out are textbook examples of L.A.’s beautiful people. The four men and three women range in age from 25 to 43 and run the gamut of the Kinsey scale—from ladies man Brian, to “flirts with everyone” Rebecca, to gay men Doug and Jesse.

Reality shows and docudramas routinely feature stereotypically good-looking participants and depict them with hair and makeup intact even when engaged in an activity (hiking up a mountain, building a house) anyone else would look, at best, disheveled while doing. Work Out doesn’t have to worry about such incongruities, since it’s expected that employees at such a place would have toned (and in L.A., tan) bodies. In addition, though, this series films the trainers and clients as they sweat, grunt, and strain for those bodies. Yes, it really does take work, on and off the camera.

The women work it as much as the guys, and in fact, Rebecca, 30, and a former competitor on The Amazing Race, wins the boot camp fitness competition among the trainers in the second episode. Strong women, good. Much of the strength we see, though, is in Jackie herself.

Jackie Warner knows her stuff: fitness, wellness, motivation, and discipline. She insists the trainers follow her lead, declaring “My place, my rules.” This sets the scene for plenty of conflict, especially between Warner and headstrong Brian, aka Peeler (“If you want to peel those pounds away, ask for Peeler,” he boasts).

She is continually frustrated that Brian, 27, doesn’t train the way she has instructed, and he’s angry when she corrects his technique in front of a client. Testosterone clichés are alive and well, as we soon see him furiously pumping iron after that encounter.

Jackie decides to hire a new trainer in case she needs to replace Brian and conducts the training part of the interviews in the gym, in front of everyone. Threatened by this, Brian tries to bond with Jackie–by inviting her to a strip club. Jackie’s astonished that Brian can be so clueless as to assume that just because she’s a lesbian, she would enjoy such an outing.

Though Brian is the largest thorn in Jackie’s side at the gym, Work Out also shows dyke drama aplenty, thanks to the coverage of Jackie’s relationship with her passionate, quick to anger, and jealous girlfriend, Mimi. Together for nearly four years, the couple is now learning to deal with Jackie’s increased concentration on her business: Mimi feels neglected; Jackie isn’t feeling supported. They fight frequently but make up quickly. Jackie is growing weary of their arguments, but it’s clear she loves Mimi and wants to build a future with her. She even good naturedly deals with her girlfriend’s tendency to bite: “She bites me when she loves me, and she bites me when she’s mad.”