Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon: From Indie Shows to Workout Videos

Can the musician convince hipsters not to roll their eyes while exercising?

  • Share
  • Read Later


A trailer for a new workout video has been circulating the web the last several days, featuring a rather surprising star: Justin Vernon, BFF to Kanye West and frontman of indie-folk band Bon Iver. Perhaps it’s just another effort in his plot to bro up his image, but it seems like the sensitive singer is actually serious about getting healthy.

Director Dan Huiting, who directed Bon Iver’s music videos for “Calgary” and “Holocene,” told MTV Hive, “It’s a legit workout DVD. Straight up, for real.” The video, entitled On the Road, features the Bon Iver crew lifting weights, crunching abs, and lunging in a series of circuit exercises shot in Vernon’s yard, as well as scenes of the guys working out backstage while on tour.

(READ: Bon Iver’s New Album: An Elusive Kanye West Collaborator Returns to His Emotional Roots)

The trailer offers a glimpse of the workout routines one can expect, and also starts off with a little story about the meet-cute that brought Vernon and personal trainer Jeff Rogers together. As he explains it, Rogers met Vernon while playing basketball at the YMCA. After noticing that “something wasn’t right,” Rogers approached Vernon and found out that the singer struggles with sciatica, and offered to show him some workouts to strengthen his lower back.  Two years later, the entire band has started working out with Rogers during rehearsals, taking his circuit routines with them on tour.

Can On the Road be the next P90X or Tae Bo for the hipster set? Though an unconventional choice by most fitness class standards, the video features music that indie kids actually like, says Huiting: “You can workout to cool music instead of something stupid.” Bon Iver, S. Carey, Megafaun, and We Are the Willows are all featured on the video.

In what will come as a relief to those who resent the peppiness of cheesy, upbeat exercise videos, Vernon’s testimony is as direct and dry as they come: “He just started showing me workouts that I could do and when I started doing them, there was just such a lack of hating it.” A lack of hating something is practically loving it by hipster code, so that should prompt some viewers to purchase! “The word ‘workout’ sort of sucks. It doesn’t make you feel good. It’s sort of dorky or something. When I started working out with Jeff I just felt so good, I actually started wanting to do it more,” he continues.

“The great thing about the workout is they’re not, like, crazy. They just make you feel better at the end,” Vernon says. The DVD might have initially seemed like a joke, and the video montage of the band lifting modest dumbbells and running up stairs does look like it came straight out of an episode of MTV’s True Life or Made, but really, it’s an inspiring message. Even melancholy indie kids deserve to be in top physical shape. The video should drop in the next month or two, but Huiting’s not 100% sure: “…f*** if I know. Soonish. How’s that sound?”

MORE: Exclusive First Look at Bon Iver‘s Digital Deluxe Edition