“This sucks, this sucks, this sucks,” I shouted at Chris Hemsworth, who was leading me through a bodyweight workout in my garage.
With just the unforgiving force of gravity, I was making sounds I hadn’t made since giving birth. We’d only just passed the mid-point of this 16-minute class. The 6'3" actor had already directed me through mountain climbers, pulsed lunges, and bear crawls. Accompanied by trainer Luke Zocchi, Hemsworth didn’t say much, but when he did it took on outsize importance. “Woo-hoo,” he said. “Alright,” he offered. Mostly he loomed, a muscled phenomenon moving seamlessly on my laptop screen.
Before downloading Hemsworth’s fitness app, Centr (with one “e”), I didn’t really know who he was, aside from understanding that he was in the quartet of Chrises called upon to bulk up for Hollywood blockbusters. (My personal Hollywood action hero preferences fall outside of said Chrisdom.) I vaguely pictured him with a superhero costume and a shield, but turns out I was confusing him with Chris Evans’ Captain America. I was pretty convinced that he was once married to Miley Cyrus, but that was actually his brother Liam.
All I really knew was that Hemsworth embodies a golden boy aesthetic dependent on washboard abs, bulging pectorals, and mega traps. It’s an aesthetic that has led some to declare Hemsworth the “himbo king.” He even appeared as the over-the-top himbo secretary in 2016's Ghostbusters, calling his character “a big dumb puppy dog.” Of course, this awareness, as well Ghostbusters director Paul Feig’s remark that Hemsworth is “a huge comedic talent,” suggests he is not “a dumb puppy dog,” just very good at playing the part. Regardless, I figured I could get a taste of the himbo wellness routine by sampling Centr, which includes meal plans, recipes, guided meditations, and workouts with a host of trainers, including Bobby Holland Hanton, Hemsworth’s on-screen stunt double.
First up: the bodyweight workout with Hemsworth and Zocchi, who referred to Hemsworth as “big dog.” During the opening squats, Hemsworth improvised some uppercuts while making a “whoosh” sound that immediately endeared him to me and recalled boys from middle school. Soon, he was doing “sit throughs,” which are like a plank where you shoot alternating legs through to the other side. Honestly, at this point, I was thinking that the himbo workout had nothing on my usual Peleton cycling class. Then came the second round of pulsing squats, cross-body mountain climbers, and jump lunges. Then came the moment that broke me: walkouts with pushups, where you walk your arms out into a plank, do a pushup, walk yourself back again. Terrible, terrible, terrible torturous exercise.
That’s about when the “this sucks” started. Then they increased with the “Russian twist,” where you lift your legs off the ground while moving your hand from side to side as though carrying an invisible ball, and peaked with the burpee pushups. By the end of the workout, I was an eviscerated puddle of sweat and heat, fully broken by a 16-minute himbo workout. The next day, my thighs felt like pounded chicken filets. I followed this with a Centr smoothie of almond milk, protein powder, oats, banana, blueberries, and almond butter. It was delicious, filling, and took me an entire hour just to finish. I was one meal closer to full himbo transfiguration.
Finally, I had arrived at my most-anticipated part of my himbo wellness journey: sitting in a chair and doing nothing. Although Hemsworth only co-stars in a few Centr bodyweight training videos, he’s the star of scores of their guided meditations. In audio snippets, Hemsworth will talk you through sleep visualization, breathing, focus, and motivation. He’ll even teach your kids to meditate (“Think of your belly like a balloon”). I chose his “stress release” guided meditation, popping my earbuds in to hear his gravel voice telling me to “sit or lie down, whatever feels right to you.” He told me to take some breaths and I then listened to his famous-person breaths right in my ears.
“Turn your attention to your body,” he purred, his craggy voice a climbing wall I wanted to mount. “Take a moment to rate your stress if you had to give it a number out of ten... what number would you be right now?” Feeling like I could now communicate telepathically with Chris Hemsworth, I wordlessly, and hyperbolically, told him: “Ten.” He responded, “Okay, I hear you.” Having Thor pretend to listen to me in a pre-recorded soundbite was surprisingly moving. I may have teared up a little bit.
“Now feel where that stress lives in your body, where do you notice it the most?” he asked. “We won’t stay here long.” I thought-told him: “My shoulder, my neck, my jaw.” He responded, “Maybe your jaw feels a little clenched.” He knows me so well, I thought.
Here lies a key to the eternal appeal of the himbo, and particularly of Chris Hemsworth. He isn’t just mega traps, but also a strong, calm, non-threatening presence that makes the worries of the world seem to melt away—when he isn’t guiding you through Russian twists.