Fitness Junkie

  • TitleFitness Junkie
  • AuthorLucy SykesJo Piazza
  • Genre: Beach read, Chick lit, contemporary
  • Words to describe: Funny, satirical
  • Publication Date:  July 2017
  • Publisher: Doubleday
  • Rating: 3/5 stars

This was a fun, quirky, and satirical read. I don’t normally go for these sorts of books and don’t find “funny” books funny, but this one had me laughing at points.

When Janey Sweet, CEO of a couture wedding dress company, is photographed in the front row of a fashion show eating a bruffin–the delicious lovechild of a brioche and a muffin–her best friend and business partner, Beau, gives her an ultimatum: Lose thirty pounds or lose your job… Janey throws herself headlong into the world of the fitness revolution, signing up for a shockingly expensive workout pass, baring it all for Free the Nipple yoga, sweating through boot camp classes run by Sri Lankan militants and spinning to the screams of a Lycra-clad instructor with rage issues…As Janey eschews delicious carbs, pays thousands of dollars to charlatans, and is harassed by her very own fitness bracelet, she can’t help but wonder: Did she really need to lose weight in the first place?

Fitness Junkie eats at the layers of the fitness industry and gets you really thinking: do you need all those fancy protein powders, $12 cold-pressed green juices, $40 boutique classes, and flashy fitness bling to be healthy and happy?

Jo Piazza: “…I was watching my friends spend all of their disposable income on wellness—$500 a week on classes, $300 on juice cleanses—and the truth is, they were actually feeling worse than ever. And I’d been there, too. There was a point where I was probably spending $1,000 a month on “health” and “wellness,” and then I hit a wall [and I couldn’t afford it any more].”

The book doesn’t bash being healthy; quite the opposite. So much more than a chick-lit book bashing fitness fools, the book gets you wondering how much of your self-esteem is tied to being part of the fitness craze and trying the latest acai bowl? There’s nothing wrong with that, but when it becomes an obsession and you count every calorie, that’s when the issues start.

A hilarious send-up of the health and wellness industry, Fitness Junkie is a glorious romp through the absurd landscape of our weight-obsessed culture. 

There’s even a letter from the editor about the authors finding out that the outlandish exercise classes and diets they wrote about are real. There’s eating clay (bentonite clay which is supposed to ‘detox’ you and make you feel full), and there’s being on a water diet, or having a fitness monitors that measures nearly everything you can think of relating to your physiology. There’s even classes where the instructor screams profanities and insults at you to motivate you (I couldn’t find actual classes that does this, but let me know in the comments if they exist).

I loved the female friendships in this book. Janey and her bestie JC are opposites. Janey isn’t a health freak, while JC is worried about how chubby her young twin boys are looking on Facebook posts. And she’s always up on all the latest fad diets and workouts. This mirrors the real-life authors’ relationship: Jo Piazza is Janey, and Lucy Sykes is JC.

Jo Piazza: “She’d [Lucy Sykes] be like, “I’m taking this crazy class,” and I’d respond with, “You know, I’m just going to run.” I had also just moved from New York to San Francisco, where basically everyone thinks they’re a shaman, and I was like, “That’s not a job!” New York and San Francisco are so ripe to be satirized.”

At the end, of course, Janey realizes her worth isn’t in her weight. Cliche, yes, but it shows her growth. She evens finds a man who loves her the way she is, and she takes control of her family business finally.

She lets go of toxic, but old, friendships, and she lets go of feeling that she has to conform or to submit to others. She’s liberated in a way she hasn’t been before.

A great read, especially if you listen to the audiobooks, which brings it to life more.

Jo Piazza: “The reason we wrote this book is that we feel very passionately that wellness shouldn’t be for this incredibly elite class. We intentionally made the main character rich to show that rich people are the only ones who can buy into this lifestyle, and I wanted to satirize how insane it’s all gotten. We’ve moved into a world where classes and diet fads are so expensive that only the 1 percent can afford them—and that’s ridiculous. The ultimate goal was to show how the latest fad isn’t what’s going to keep you healthy. It all comes down to simply eating right and moving your body.

There’s a great interview with Jo Piazza and what got her thinking about fitness and health. She found out she had the gene for muscular dystrophy, which put her dad in a wheelchair, and he couldn’t walk the last five years of his life. She didn’t want that for herself, and so looked into what to do so she wouldn’t end up like her dad. Turns out, eating right and exercising was the best way to go.

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