5 Reasons Fitness Magazines Are Bullshit

by Maureen Stiles
Originally Published: 
Image via Shutterstock

Fitness magazines litter the grocery check-out making it a challenge to ignore the BOGO offer attached to the candy bars. In line, I stare at Keri Russell, barely visible above my box of Entenmanns, on the cover of Women’s Health magazine. I wonder if she has ever polished off a Snickers bar in two giant bites and then shoved the wrapper in her purse before her kids sniffed out the chocolate.

Her picture alone just pisses me off. It mocks my processed food processing down the conveyor belt. Maybe it wouldn’t be such a pain if these magazines were located on a rack, say, in the produce department. Healthy things all grouped together logically is so much easier to ignore. But here at the checkout, I realize that fitness magazines are crap. Why?

1. The airbrushing. If you looked good enough to be hired and photographed for a fitness magazine, then the airbrush process is just an insult to all of us regular people. Why are they airbrushing celebrities who already look better than the rest of us? Exactly how terrible are they trying to make us feel?

A magazine once airbrushed part of a teenager’s thigh so it took an unnatural jog below her crotch. Ouch! That type of “error” would be a gift to most women I know. I would crawl across glass if someone was willing to omit an entire section of my body. It wouldn’t have to look natural, or symmetrical, just smaller. I would then make that photo my profile pic on Facebook until the end of time.

2. Nobody sweats. I get so flushed, over wrought and sweaty when I exercise that strangers stare at me and move down-wind before ultimately offering assistance. However, no one in any of these magazines has a long, trail of sweat expanding into every crevice of their body or even appears winded. Not one tiny hair ever escapes the ponytail and is matted to the side of their face. Nothing but sleek hair, fake poses and lipstick, page after nauseating page. The only time I work out with lipstick is when I forget to remove it the night before. This usually means I am hung over and it looks less like makeup and more like I have been chugging the kids’ Kool-Aid to replace electrolytes.

3. The Clothing. The main reason I get up at the crack of dawn and head out with the dog is because it is dark and no one sees what I am wearing. It is a good day if my clothes are all on right side out, let alone matching. I get dressed in the dark using the flashlight app on my phone and I mostly look like I get dressed in the dark using the flashlight app on my phone.

From what I can tell, perfectly coordinated jog bras and yoga pants with a headband that matches the accent color of the pants clearly makes you thinner. It is all the energy and calories you burn selecting an outfit I think. Not one model is wearing her husband’s or kids’ t-shirt with socks that may or may not match each other. And don’t get me started on the fact that no one wears two bras to rein in breasts that have been ravaged by gravity and a decade of thankless breastfeeding. If our house ever caught fire in the middle of the night, I would be just as worried about being outside braless as I would be about smoke inhalation.

4. The Real-Life Success Stories. I have nothing but admiration for these people and their hard work and transformation; they are an inspiration to all of us non-organic, processed sugar addicts. But, not one of the make-over stories ever starts with the phrase “First, I bought this great fitness magazine,” even though their story is featured in said fitness magazine.

Instead, most of these stories begin with a woman seeing her ass in the back ground of a photo and realizing that those “slim shaper” jeans were almost as much of a rip-off as fitness magazines are. The ass-shot is responsible for more fitness success than Jane Fonda and Pilates combined.

5. The Featured Articles. Apparently if you are in shape, the world presents a wealth of opportunity unavailable to the flabby. A recent guide to bathing suit shopping was grouped by degree of skin exposure. The maximum, DEFCON level coverage for the truly pathetic still featured two bikinis.

Not one suit with a real skirt extending to mid-thigh so you can bend over without showing un-airbrushed cellulite and stretch marks to the free world. Their idea of conservative coverage consisted of a bottom with a flirty ruffle ending at the top of the thighs. This suit on me, exposes skin that hasn’t seen daylight since pregnancy #1 and would create a two- layer wedgie if you do more than simply lay on a blanket.


I need a magazine article about trying really hard to be quasi-healthy and then getting tripped up at your kids’ birthday party when you ate half a bag of candy making goody bags and polished off left over cake.

That magazine I would buy and read cover to cover.

Related post: The 10 People You Meet At Every Group Exercise Class

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