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Why I No Longer Buy “Fitness” Magazines

As many of you know, somewhere over the past year I had AN “AHA!” moment where I began to define being “fit” as having great:

  • strength
  • balance
  • endurance and
  • flexibility.

My perspective change comes more from my desire to live a long and healthy life, yanno, to have a really good quality of life when I’m older.

Survival of the fittest

Well guess what? The “fittest” is not necessarily the skinniest, or the one who weighs the least, with the thinnest legs, or the tightest abs yet I struggle to find “fitness” magazines that define fitness the same way as me, written by Exercise Physiologists and Kinesiologists sharing articles on how to become really fit, articles that will help me to become the fastest, and strongest version of me. Instead, in the “fitness” magazines I see articles written about such topics as:

THIN FOR THE HOLIDAYS – Curb your appetite – Stop sugar cravings

;

LOOK GREAT NAKED – Flat belly foods – Fast toning moves – Cellulite blasters

LOSE YOUR GUT NOW

Now that my oldest daughter is 7 (where does the time go?) and is able to read, I don’t want these lying around my house. I don’t want my daughters reading these, and growing up thinking that they have to LOOK a certain way to be considered healthy and fit. I’ve already caught them saying that McDonald’s isn’t good for you because it makes you fat (to which I explain, that no, the food from McDonald’s and other fast food restaurants are not healthy because the food is low in vitamins and minerals, and high in sodium, saturated fats etc).

I want my daughters to learn through the examples I set for them that being active is fun. That being fit is about being the best that you can be. When we exercise together, we discuss ways to become stronger – how having a strong core allows you to run faster, to be a better soccer player etc.

It’s unfortunate that the fitness magazines don’t approach fitness from that perspective. I know we live in an overweight society, and articles about how to lose weight are important, but I also feel that perhaps society can be motivated differently – perhaps even with intrinsic motivation (becoming stronger, faster, developing more balance etc), because truthfully the way we’ve been trying to motivate people isn’t working.

What do you think? Do fitness magazines put too much emphasis on weight loss?

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  • Tammy
    July 26, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    I completely agree with you that there is too much emphasis on weight loss in those magazines and very little content overall about their supposed main topic: fitness. I subscribed to them for years, until I got frustrated by the lack of relevant to me articles. Between diets and beauty secret, I scarcely ever found new studies of the most effective techniques for increasing muscle strength, how to build endurance, and creative new workouts to beat boredom.

    If I had children, I definitely would have stopped my subscription much sooner. Congratulations on your efforts to give accurate information and a more sensible motivating factors in the quest to be healthy to your daughter.

  • Weight Loss Trainer
    July 26, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    100% agree!

    I think the best way to teach your youngins about a sensitive topic such as weight, is by example.

  • Heather Iacobacci (
    July 26, 2012 at 6:57 pm

    Great post and I do agree. And I also think they tend to focus on quick fixes vs long-term, lifetime healthy living changes.

  • Mary Jo Berman
    July 27, 2012 at 12:01 am

    tremendous observation about the “fitness” industry. They are still peddling the same crap that Cosmopolitan and Seventeen magazine did 20 – 30 years ago. Only now they pretend its about fitness.

  • Miz
    July 27, 2012 at 5:58 am

    such a tough thing.
    I really like the mags (though I tend to buy more of the mens than the wmns) as FOR ME THEY ARE FINE. They dont impact how I view myself as all.
    and they get me on the stationary bike to do cardio.
    That said, now that I have a daughter it’s all different.

  • Milton Personal Trainer
    July 28, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    Hey Janice. We have to be very careful what we say in the Foster household. My oldest is 9 and she is aware of body image ideas already. I’ve stopped buying them. They r all ads anyway. Maybe 1 – 2 good articles in them??

  • Stephanie
    July 29, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    Couldn’t agree with you more. I can’t buy those magazines anymore because I think they have a negative influence on me as an adult, so I certainly wouldn’t want a seven year old seeing them. My goal isn’t to be thin, but to be strong (as you say, as well) and I don’t think the magazines emphasize anything but being skinny, as evidenced by the models they use. Glad you are trying to set an example for your daughter – I think she is lucky to have such a thoughtful mom!

  • Amber K
    July 30, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    I have slowly cut down on the amount of magazines that I’m reading in general, and it’s kind of a bummer to get rid of my “fitness” mags that I was so in love with. But it’s sad how many articles are just about how to look good and not about how to get fit and strong.

    • Janice - The Fitness Cheerleader
      July 31, 2012 at 9:37 am

      I guess that’s what sells the magazines 🙁 That said, I have come to really enjoy reading sport specific publications like Runner’s World, Triathlete magazine and Cycling Magazine – they have great info about fuelling the body for endurance sports, and great workouts/training programs.

  • Corah
    July 30, 2012 at 11:45 pm

    Amen! I really have come to resent these magazines. They address women women as if we are all flawed and stupid. Their covers are nothing but airbrushed, “buff” 25 year olds. I am disabled, 27 and know that not every woman out there is worried to death that she has Killer Abs or perfect teeth. I would love to find exercises or eating tips for ALL of us, and more so see an acceptance of us in these mags, which I do not. These magazines seem to just lecture us Lesser Mortals as if all we have to do is get with the program and if you don’t look like the models within the pages, it’s your “fault”. There are a lot of sizes, shapes, health issues, medical issues, income limitations and ages to those who want to be “fit”. When did I wake up for good? When I keep seeing an airbrushed Oprah on the cover of her magazine, thinner than a supermodel. No one seems to call her on this huge lie as she touts feeling good about yourself and loving who you are? Please. It’s a big world out there…I now worry about making my intellect and vibe “fit”

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