Fitness Models: Unrealistic Heroes?

One time a guy, pointing to a poster of me, said “do your abs really look like that?” I was taken off guard, and kind of perturbed. I mean, did he think I would have just drawn them on? Did he think I looked fat now? Was that photo really so unbelievable? The truth is, my abs didn’t look like the poster that day. So much goes into photo shoots, it’s honestly unfair to anyone else who references professional shots as “normal”.

Kristia Knowles, who’s landed the cover of countless fitness magazines like Oxygen and Muscle & Fitness Hers, openly admits magazines photoshop the heck out of pictures. Although I know Kristia is absolutely beautiful and fit in person, the reality of what you may see in print is it’s not always reality at all.

When a fitness article shows off an amazing physique, with a headline to match like “5 Butt Blasting Moves”, the reader automatically thinks (even if they know better) those 5 moves are going to give you “that butt”. How unfair is it that the magazine doesn’t talk about their extreme pre-shoot diet or insane amount of cardio they do to shed fat for that day? Or how about discussing the water pills and laxatives they took to shrink their tummy and skin? Then there’s the fact they are posing on an empty stomach and can’t wait to totally pig out as soon as they’re are done. That, my friend, is the reality.

Aside from the actual physical work a fitness model does to prepare for a shoot, there’s the workout the model gets after the shoot. Abs get painted, skin is smoothed, skin folds are removed, and muscles may even get “pumped”. Although this photoshopped picture of Angelina Jolie is an extreme example of what someone can do with a photo, there are very few pictures that don’t get photoshopped in this business. Kristia says, even the best bodies still get photoshopped. So even the people who already have amazing physiques are made to look even more amazing – and we wonder why we have self-esteem issues. 

Although some people either have great genetics, or they work hard to stay lean throughout the year, most professional figure and bodybuilding athletes don’t. I have been with many of the top fitness celebrities in their “off season” like Monica Brant and Ronnie Coleman, and they don’t look like what we see in magazines. Unfortunately, many fitness stars use steroids to get their coveted muscle and, unless they are close to a show or shoot, they aren’t nearly as lean as you’re used to seeing them – and some of them are actually just plain fat.

True athletes tend to look more like their photos through out the year. Olympic and professional sports athletes aren’t focused on looking fit for one day, they are focused on BEING fit all season. Even my husband, for instance, used to do the “bulking up” for a show and then “leaning out” for a contest, always yo-yoing up and down. Now he stays lean all year round because he’s not training for looks, he’s training for fitness – and his looks are the icing on the low-calorie cake!

Sure, everyone has “heroes”, but maybe it would be healthier for us if we weren’t striving to look like someone in their very best hour of their very best day. The healthiest role models are probably the ones you see every day training in your gym.

Click here for more fun “Celebrities on Steroids” photoshopped photos like this one of Gisele Bundchen.

Owner of Lift Vero and motivational "pfitness, pfood and pfaith" blogger in Vero Beach, Florida.


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