A simple list of shit I’ve bought while scrolling Instagram: books Reese Witherspoon recommended; Glossier Cloud Paint; a leather club chair from West Elm; apple cider vinegar gummies; socks with my face on them; a BestSelf Co. journal; a sweater with a banana on it from a Brazilian clothier that plants a tree in the rainforest with every purchase; and, in the Before Times when groups could still congregate, a $35 fitness boot camp led by personal trainer and Bachelor Nation alum Peter Kraus.
Since appearing on season 13 of The Bachelorette (as Rachel Lindsay’s runner-up, who exited in the most dramatic breakup ever), Peter has #sponcon’ed his Instagram (427,000 followers) all the way to his own gym in Middleton, Wisconsin, and a boot camp series that runs across the United States. Still, I wonder: Is this really gonna be a workout? Or is this a group date? If you watch The Bachelor, you already know a group date is where a bunch of women participate in activities like pillow fighting, tackle football, and skiing in bikinis in order to win the affections of one man and “get a rose.” Who would do such a thing? Exceptionally photogenic 23-year-olds do such a thing. But what the Bachelor universe really needs is a 40-year-old sassy single mother in the Fantasy Suite for the right reasons, so in February I slapped on a sports bra and some Lululemons and made my way to the W Chicago–Lakeshore in Streeterville.
Peter walked into the penthouse event space filled with 30-something 30-something women in tank tops with slogans like “I Literally Can’t Even” and “All I Want Is Pizza and Abs,” and he was so gorgeous I was taken aback. For the entire warm-up, I sputtered to my bestie Heather about how long his legs are. I was still thinking about his eyes, which contain a multitude of colors — blue! green! gold! — as we moved into body weight work. Peter said he loves planks because they activate everything, and I thought, Activate this, Peter. It was time for pushups — the bane of my existence since the Presidential Fitness Test of 1992 — and Heather burst out laughing at my attempt. I shushed her so Peter wouldn’t ask if he could walk me out.
During the cooldown, we lay on our mats while sexy music played, and I thought, If this were a real Bachelor date, I’d be stretched out with Peter while the camera lingered on a close-up of my ass. That horror sobered me up quick. When we joined the meet-and-greet line, I felt more like my regular self — that is, the one who’d need to hold the sink to lower my body down to the toilet the next day because my quads were on fire. After about 30 minutes of waiting, the shine of Insta-celebrity began to wane, and Heather and I were more focused on what we were going to eat for lunch than our impending photo with Peter. But we valiantly found the energy for a selfie and to inquire if Peter had found love yet. He told us that he’s currently not dating so many times that Heather and I exchanged a look like, Uh, calm down, bro, and eventually she said, “I’m married, and she’s dating someone,” just to reassure him. I was a little disappointed in Peter’s refusal to play along with the fantasy, but I suppose at the end of the day, he wasn’t there to make friends.