Published by Doubleday
Publication date: July 11th 2017
There are many things that make being a booklover wonderful, but one that makes me positively giddy is when a book finds me when I need it most. That feeling of a book that knows what you need and provides it. No point in prolonging the suspense, I’m talking about Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza’s new novel, Fitness Junkie. DON’T. RUN. AWAY! It’s not a non-fiction workout book. It is a hilarious, intelligent, impactful novel about the crazy things women do for their appearance. And why it’s messed up. Which is kind of all you need to know, so if you want to leave right now and go buy the book you have my permission.
You’re still here? Awesome! Fitness Junkie is about Janey, a healthy, attractive, forty-year-old woman with an MBA who is the co-founder of the chicest bridal dress company in the U.S. The designer, Beau, has been her best friend since childhood. At least he was, right up until he told her at brunch in Manhattan (because, of course, most of my favorite books take place in NYC) that until she lost 30 pounds she needed to take a sabbatical. Her weight was not befitting the image of their sylphlike gowns. Janey is hurt, but willing to acknowledge that she’s put on a bit of weight due to an acrimonious divorce and maybe getting in shape and losing some weight would be healthy. So begins the journey into lunacy with Janey as the only sane person on board.
Janey soon learns about diets of nothing but clay (oh, the minerals!), “kelp is the new kale”, and a gym membership that if you miss class they charge you anyway and donate the money to a cause you hate—as in the Trump 2020 campaign. (Actually, that sounds like a great idea because it would motivate the hell out of me.) Then she meets a female shaman—a beautiful, breezy, calm woman who introduces her to all kinds of way to achieve transcendence (and get skinny). All of this culminates in being inducted into an invitation-only fitness class with more rules and regulations than most country clubs. Run by a sprite who only wears grey and spouts affirmations like “Hold your own hand”.
At this point, my head explodes. Or more accurately, I explode with laughter (in public) that just keeps coming because so do these insane takes on the health and wellness industry. Page after page of witty, snarky spot-on satire about the modern day obsession with the superficial aspects of a healthy lifestyle that only the wealthy can afford. Fitness Junkie works so well because Piazza and Sykes use multi-faceted characters to drive home their point. The novel is filled with highly intelligent, successful women who still feel compelled to try wild fads in order to maintain an unrealistic appearance. Throughout the novel they work with this theme, exposing it for what it is. While women being unhappy with their appearance is not a positive I do appreciate that Fitness Junkie does not play to the old stereotype about chick-lit—it’s not about getting or keeping a man. In fact, men and relationships are not even a factor in the plot. Yay!
Sykes and Piazza are so in-the-know that they impart the feeling of fact to the fiction in Fitness Junkie. They also have no qualms about skewering some of the new new-age fitness lifestyle gurus out there, like Gwyneth Paltrow and Tracy Anderson. You know, the kind of women who make me want to wear a polyester muumuu while eating lard on bacon because their aspirational ‘perfection’ is nauseating. The only ones for whom the whole wellness craze is working because they are making money hand over fist selling unattainable goals. Whether you are all-in on the latest diet or fitness craze (daily IV treatments, anyone?), this novel is perfect in its execution of how even things that start out as healthy can go very wrong when they’re co-opted by people just looking to make a buck. Grab a bowl of ice cream or your carb of choice, throw on comfy clothes and just ENJOY this fabulously witty, fun novel. All calories consumed will be burned off by laughing. You’re welcome.