'Physical' was a hit for Apple TV+, and with Season 2 set to stream starting June 3, there's never been a better time to get your leg warmers on and get in on the action.
Set largely in the 1980s, "Physical" follows Sheila Rubin, played perfectly by Rose Byrne, as she builds a fitness empire and navigates a turbulent friendship with Greta, portrayed by Dierdre Friel.
Aerobics proves to be a much-needed escape for Rubin, who is struggling outside the gym with an eating disorder and a selfish husband. Greta, on the other hand, struggles with insecurities surrounding being overweight and also finds it difficult to find her place in the world.
While the show offers an uncomfortable and necessary look at the fallibility of the human psyche, there are also some twinkling — and glittering — rays of light. One of the more colorful aspects of Physical is a reminder that the '80s was definitely a moment in fitness fashion history. Did the show's star, Rose Byrne, have any input regarding the spandex featured on screen?
"Well, I mean, we worked really closely with our designer, Ernesto," says Byrne. “He was incredible and you absolutely have to have a dialogue. With these jerseys they are actually very difficult to make because we all make everything by hand so it's just an inch away from its lifespan and back then a lot of women made their own jerseys. They were not readily available - they were mainly sold in ballet shops. Athleisure wasn't a thing in 1982, so it's such a big part of the show. In a way, this collaboration is really our 'special effects'.”
Get "physical" and embrace your individuality
Of course, the 2020s also brought us a fashion moment with the advent of fitted, high-waisted Nike Pro and Gym Shark apparel. In the '80s, you could wear whatever you wanted to the gym or aerobics and return to civilian life without fear of being caught by a lens, but with the growth of social media and the ubiquity of cell phone cameras, there are There's more uncertainty about what we wear to workouts than ever before.
In Season 1 of Physical, Greta feels that the pressure to look a certain way is too much for her and instead considers exercising at home, away from the judgment of others. But what does Deirdre Friel think of the world of sports fashion, and would it be better for all of us if we all wore the same thing, or should we learn to proudly accept our individuality?
"Embrace who you are," says Friel. "You're never going to put eight pounds of potatoes in a five pound sack, you just have to be yourself. I'm just thankful they don't put me in spandex on the show because there are so many times I'm like, 'Good lord up there.'"
Byrne, who lost a significant amount of weight to play the complex character of Sheila Rubin, looks incredible in her '80s outfits, but unlike the ill-fitting garments of the '80s, these outfits are perfectly tailored.
"We have a mix of vintage pieces and pieces that we build from scratch, so it's a good combination," she says. "It's really still the '70s when we start the show, so towards the end of this season you start to get more of that Armani-esque '80s power suit. But it's a lot of fun.”
Courtesy of Apple TV
As a Golden Globe-nominated actress, Byrne has learned to contend with her own insecurities, even while wearing form-fitting gym clothes to deliver an authentic performance. "As an actor, I think it's fun, whether you're doing aerobics or boxing scenes, you can't be so self-conscious about trying to do something physical, so that's always pretty liberating."
One message Physical sends out loud and clear is that no matter how we appear on the outside, we are all dealing with our own demons on the inside. While Sheila and Greta may be polar opposites when it comes to their body shapes, they deal with many of the same inner struggles. This is a point many viewers have referred to, and women have reached out to both actors to thank them for their affiliation.
"A lot of people have said it's nice to see someone who looks like me doing what I do, which is nice," Friel shares. "It's really nice to be able to just be myself and not have to wear Spanx or something like that to work every day and just feel really comfortable." So whatever you wear to the gym, skinny or oversized, comfy too being and embracing your individuality is the way to go.