Fitness Junkie Review
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Every day, we’re bombarded by ads and images and articles and other messages about the eternal quest for the “perfect” body. There are constantly new fad diets and fitness regimens that promise to help us lose weight fast. But in Fitness Junkie by authors Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza, one woman’s quest to lose weight sends her into truly ridiculous territory.

The story explores the New York City fitness scene with Janey Sweet, CEO of B, an elite bridal company. After she’s photographed at a fashion show eating a delicious pastry, her business partner and childhood best friend, Beau, forces her out of the company until she loses 30 pounds. Newly divorced and desperate not to lose Beau, too, Janey finds herself signing up for trendy workout classes and trading carbs for juice. But as she takes off the weight, she begins to wonder if she really wants her old life back.

Fitness Junkie takes our culture’s obsession with fitness and weight loss and magnifies it. At times, Janey’s experiences are amusingly absurd. She goes to a boot camp-style workout class taught by surprisingly polite former terrorists. She does topless yoga, befriends a shaman, and follows her best girl friend through one bizarre diet after another. But it’s not nearly as outrageously funny as it could be—perhaps because there’s a little too much truth to it. Some of the outrageous fitness classes don’t seem too far from the norm—nor do the ridiculous fad diets. In fact, they seem like something you’d see on reality TV on any given night.

The problem, then, is that it all feels more tragic than funny. There may be some aspects that seem silly—but, really, it’s just plain sad. After all, in real life, people really are obsessed with their body image. They work out excessively. They try one unhealthy diet after another. They’re shamed, bullied, and humiliated. And that makes it hard to laugh about the characters in this novel. Some are shallow and cruel—like Beau. Some are lonely and insecure and afraid—like Janey. Others are just plain greedy. And the troubled characters and their unfortunate story make for a satire that’s not nearly satirical enough.

Fitness Junkie had the opportunity to take the more over-the-top aspects of the health craze and create a story that’s both smart and outrageously funny. Instead, it’s a little too real—and, while it’s often light and entertaining, it’s also surprisingly depressing.

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