Fitness Junkie by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza is the perfect balm for this ex-New Yorker’s soul. I remember when I lived in the city the immense pressure put on you by the fitness community to be up to date: in the know of all the hottest classes and events, a visitor to all the latest food joints, and all the while remaining grounded and compassionate and culturally in tune. It felt like everything flew at me from every direction, and as a young mom it was so easy to feel like I didn’t measure up to the insanely strong and slim women around me.
That’s why I feel that Janey Sweet is my sole sister. At forty Janey is told by her lifelong best friend and business partner she needs to lose thirty pounds or she is out of a job after she is filmed eating a bruffin at a fashion show. What comes next is a whirlwind of fitness classes and crazy diets over three months as Janey tries to overcome the triple whammy of a divorce, the betrayal of her best friend, and the loss of her parents all in one year.
Janey tries it all: Free the Nipple Yoga, dumpster-diving with men she meets at juice bars, and shaman-led ceremonies where everyone hallucinates on cactus tea. She learns about clay diets, white diets, and locally sourced camel’s milk. She takes her first tentative steps into the dating scene, and struggles to figure out what she wants to do with her life. The last month of her fitness journey is a retreat to St. Lucia with Sara Strong, creator of the top secret and wildly popular class known as The Workout.
The book is written in a conversational tone, and is rife with humor and satire. In an image obsessed culture the novel was a refreshing breeze of reality. There’s romance, luxe, and of course all the greatest fit tech and super foods of the moment. The book calls to mind flipping through a fitness magazine, with one article completely in conflict with what was just said the month before.
Fitness Junkie walks a fine line, and going into the novel I had some reservations.. Whenever the topic of fitness is broached it is so easy for it to devolve into body shaming (fat or fit). Some people really struggle with image issues and that is not a laughing matter. Thankfully I never felt like that while reading this book.
While Janey must confront her own insecurities, she doesn’t take it lying down. She’s a strong woman, and though there are elements of romance you know that no matter what happens she will be fine on her own. This women’s fiction has a strong feminist tone and I have to applaud the authors, because even though the book rips apart every single fitness industry trend, it still affirms the importance of being healthy and happy with yourself.
Some portions of the writing did feel shallow and unnecessary, but I thought the overall message was a reminder that I needed to hear. With it’s light and fun writing the book is a great bed time read or palate cleanser in between heavier literary tomes. Overall 4 out of 5 stars.
What is your favorite way to work out? Any crazy fitness trends you’ve tried? I’ve done a few spin classes, but never could quite get into it! So much more fun to just go ride a bike outside.