An athletic character working out is an excellent opportunity for Fanservice
. It gives ample opportunity to watch sweaty bodies in constant motion, labored breathing, muscle flexing...
This is a very common way to introduce stealth fanservice in works where it would otherwise be jarring to the audience, and it is especially popular in action movies or Shōnen
anime, where it makes it easier for the guy to persuade his girlfriend to join him. They don't have
to be muscular, either (though they often are) - they just have to be working out. Nor do they have to be shirtless, but they certainly don't have to not
be, either. Female characters aren't excluded from this either, but it's more common for the character in question to be male.
When they decide to work out, it can easily be justified as their way of training for a fight. They'll need to get their bodies into shape so they get a better handle on the physicality of a fight. It also allows them to wield melee weapons more easily, or it can be his way of honing his superhuman abilities... but let's face it
, we're only really interested
in the idea of a hot, sweaty, muscly guy
or strong, toned, curvy girl
sculpting their abs or legs in front of us.
The guy/girl in question has to perform anything from push-ups and sit-ups, to pull-ups and weight-lifting. Being completely nude is certainly optional. Compare Macho Camp
and Training Montage
Anime and Manga
- Ichigo Kurosaki from Bleach had a very brief scene in the anime where he made a couple of push-ups without a shirt. This was during the Soul Society arc, when he was training to get Bankai.
- Chapter 21 of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha ViVid begins with The Ojou Lady of War Victoria Dahlgrün working out in a sports bra and short shorts ensemble. This is in contrast to other characters, who do their exercising in more modest outfits.
- Episode 28 of Soul Eater has a brief scene of Dr. Stein training shirtless, and we get many loving close-up shots of his sweaty, muscular body. Fangirls were delighted.
- Sports series by design heavily feature these. Eyeshield 21 is especially shameless about them, particularly with Shin.
- This trope is one of the main selling points of Training with Hinako.
- Will Smith's character Neville starts out his day in I Am Legend with a big shirtless workout. So does his dog.
- Aerobicise was an early 1980s workout show on TV; it was also Poor Man's Porn. Lots of interesting angles on two to four hot women "demonstrating" workout techniques in a White Void Room.
- In The Avengers, Captain America is introduced with a loving shot of his body and ass while he was working out his frustrations on a series of punching bags.
- Ron Burgundy tries to invoke this in Anchorman by inviting Veronica into his office when he's "sculpting [his] guns". It doesn't work because his body betrays the fact that he doesn't work out that much, and because he keeps referring to his arms as "guns".
- Gentlemen Prefer Blondes has the incredibly beefy number "Ain't Anyone Here For Love?", which has Jane Russell wandering through a team's workout room.
- Terminator 2: Judgment Day: First shot we see of Sarah Connor, she's doing chin-ups off an overturned bed.
- Straight ladies and gay guys must have loved seeing Bruce Wayne working out in both Batman Begins and The Dark Knight Rises.
- In Die Hard 2, Colonel Stuart (played by William Sadler) is introduced doing some martial arts, which he later uses to fight the hero. What makes it this trope is that he's completely naked for no reason, though the audience only sees him from the back.
- CSI: NY came very close to it in "My Name Is Mac Taylor", when Mac was doing his lap swim workout at the gym.
- Supernatural: In "The Third Man," Sam starts his day with some push-ups, some sit-ups, and some pull-ups, keeping himself in shape for hunting demons, monsters, and spirits. Though the focus is mainly on his back, upper chest, and biceps during the workout, we get some lingering shots of his abs above his low-cut jeans (yes, he worked out in the jeans) post workout.
- Almost Once an Episode during the first half of the first season, and if the promos are to be believed, it won't stop any time soon. Oliver Queen keeps working out in his hideout.
- And he isn't the only source of that. Diggle, Sarah, and Slade have provided at least one scene of Workout Fanservice.
- The X-Files: Especially in the early seasons, Agent Fox Mulder was seen jogging, running in the stadium, or swimming a lot. His red speedo is legendary among his Estrogen Brigade fans.
- Hal from Being Human likes to do his press-ups right on time. And shirtlessly.
- There was an Australian TV series called Aerobics Oz Style, which was supposedly for the audience to exercise along to. However, the performers' skimpy dress, and some of the choreography and camera direction, raised much suspicion that it was more for the audience to... "exercise" to.
- There was a similar series in the '80s called ":20 Minute Workout". It aired very early (around 5 a.m., IIRC) and featured very hot models performing basic calisthenics to a musical background.
- ER's Dr. Catherine Banning was introduced to us via her morning workout routine. Despite her attractiveness, this seems to be more to establish her as a kickass character rather than a sexy one.
- Duncan's sweaty, extremely sexy kata in one Highlander episode.
- In-universe example in Harry and Paul: The recurring character Pik is a gym instructor. The one time we see him doing any instructing, he's helping an attractive woman through a stretching routine, and enjoying it rather more than he should.
- Angel does a lot of shirtless working out in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Begun with the notorious shirtless Tai Chi scene in "Revelations", which was acknowledged as a deliberate example of this trope by Word of God.
- The video for Olivia Newton-John's song "Physical" started out and ended with multiple handsome, muscular men working out, including several Fanservice shots.
- The music video for Eric Prydz's remix of "Call on Me" depicts a man in an otherwise all-female aerobics class, clearly enjoying the rather suggestive thrusting and grinding of the exercise routine.
- Future Spa shows a bevy of flawlessly sculpted men and women as they work out and hone their perfect bodies.
- Mass Effect 3
- James Vega does plenty of pull-ups. This is even lampshaded and considered to be in-universe fanservice - he works out near where gay shuttle pilot Steve Cortez maintains his shuttle and the ship's arsenal, and says "Heh, you know you love the show, Esteban!"
- There's also Jacob Taylor and his crunches...as Kasumi is fond of pointing out. "Mmm, crrrunches. Lots of crrrunches."
- Ménage ŕ 3: Resident Ms. Fanservice supreme DiDi is occasionally seen pursuing her fairly intensive regime of exercise. It's not that the comic requires much excuse to show her lightly dressed and sweaty, but the effect on other characters and passers-by provides some comedy.
- Many exercise videos by female celebrities are accused of being this, to the point that people who actually want to exercise complain that the fanservice gets in the way of being able to see the exercises properly.