The Skinny Bitch Collective is a workout class that has the all the makings of a new fashion elite favourite: First of all, that name. Secondly, you can’t simply sign up—you have to register an email and then wait to be alerted to an opening—in my case, I waited about three weeks, i.e. just the right amount of negging to pique my interest. Thirdly, according to the brand’s perfectly curated social media, it’s a class taken exclusively by models. Add an exorbitant price—45 American dollars for an hour-long class—and you’ve got the makings of a new, less welcoming SoulCycle. When my name was finally called as tribute, I RSVPed immediately, excited to see what taking a class for “skinny bitches” would entail—I was more than ready and willing to be called a fat slob as I held plank under the glare of a Hadid sister.
Sadly, that is not what came to pass. Russ Bateman, a good-looking Englishman, is the founder of SBC, and teaches every class. Bateman’s lifestyle philosophies include having more sex (which I’m all for) and throwing away your TV (which I am VEHEMENTLY against). Perhaps because of his Britishness, there’s something aloof and cold about him—he doesn’t have the fondness for “woo!”s that most fitness instructors usually possess. He seems to travel to exotic locales nonstop, so there is no permanent New York studio for the class. Instead, the class I attended was held in the studio space above the Bandier store on Fifth Avenue. While it was nice, the branding, the mystique and the aura of “I’m better than you” (I mean come on, it’s called Skinny Bitch) ended as soon as I arrived. There weren’t any 5’10” 17-year-old Lagerfeld muses wearing sold-out SBC-branded sports bras waiting to stare me down. There wasn’t a Jonathan Adler scented candle. There wasn’t an H&M x SBC collabo. There weren’t even showers. I panicked: I just spent 45 bucks and I’m not even going to get a chic Instagram out of it?!
The workout started and instead of demonstrating the moves, Bateman stood in the corner and called upon a blonde Danish girl to do it. It was very 50 Shades of Grey: he sternly called out a move, and she showed us, flinching slightly. Bateman also didn’t offer any adjustments to form. He did choose the music—it’s techno-lite (no Bieber in this class, sorry)—and counted down from 10 a lot. He also snapped a few Instagrams. And after all the anticipation, it was ….good. After a perfunctory warm-up where we stretched and did Pilates-style sit-ups we got into the meat of what SBC is known for: weird, highly repeated moves often described as “animalistic.” This is actually not my first time taking an “animal moves” class—what up, Animal Flow at Equinox!—so I was prepared for the bear crawls (where you move on all fours across the room with your butt as low as possible), can-can kicks from crab position (again, on all fours, but this time you’re ass-down, face-up, the way God, if not 2 Live Crew, intended) and, uh, squats.
The only thing I really dreaded was the partner aspect of SBC. I paired up with a nice, fit girl named Melanie. I asked her how she’d heard about this class. “Instagram,” she said with a shrug, as if to say, “where else?” We then spent a significant amount of class grasping each other’s hands—a big part of SBC is raising your arms above your head while tightly holding another girl’s hands. Then there’s the Tracy Anderson-esque punching-each-other’s-guts move that made me wish I hadn’t snacked on two slices of coffee cake beforehand, and piggybacking each other around the room. Have you ever heard a group of 45 women simultaneously apologize for their weight? It’s not not hilarious.
As the class finally wound down, I held my breath for some last-minute Skinny Bitch wisdom from Russ. Maybe now he would finally tell us how we all had carb-face and would never find love? Maybe now there would be a passed jug of Skinny Bitch Juice, available for retail purchase of $17.99? But there was nothing of the sort, just a strangely subdued vibe as they turned the music off and said goodbye. I left SBC with nary a Snapchat.
I want to be clear: the workout was good—very good! I was ready for more coffee cake and a shower, preferably at the same time, and my arms were kind of sore the next day. But for the price and the hullabaloo, the class just didn’t live up to my Insta-expectations. Does that make me a (skinny) bitch?