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.

About Bonnie Pfiester

Fitness Columnist and Lifestyle Coach, Resident Trainer for Designer Whey, Fitness Advisor for FitStudio, powered by Sears, FitFluential Ambassador and Owner of Max Fitness Club, home of BCx Boot Camp in Vero Beach, Florida.

Posted on January 31, 2012, in PFED UP and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. “The healthiest role models are probably the ones you see every day training in your gym.” Love that line!

  2. Many of these celebrities or models do nothing but workout and diet 365 days a year.

    Thats what they are paid to do an dhave the time to do it.

    Not very possible when you are juggling 2 jobs and trying to look after a family.

    Be realistic

    • …and even celebrities yoyo and train for different roles or going on tour. 🙂 It is possible to juggle two jobs and an awesome physique, but there must be balance – and family should come first. I’ve seen even the busiest people look amazing, BUT sometimes it comes with a cost – and it just depends how much “their look” is priority. Unfortunately the people I see that look the most amazing, even if they have 2 jobs and family, are off balance and their looks mean just a little TOO much if you know what I mean 😉 Staying real and balanced is definitely key.

  3. The saddest part of all this is the kids growing up believe that they can look like that…but then realize that they will NEVER look like that and how sad they will be or depressed! I’m old enough now to realize what my body should look and feel like. But imagine a 14 year old girl that just is starting to fill out. I remember that was me a long time ago. I thumbed through magazines wishing I could be someone else not knowing the complete truth. Then, at least, it was more authentic, but is starving yourself to be thin, authentic? See,what we must learn to do is love ourselves and know ourselves and not pay attention to everything we read and see!! But I have to say I loved this article and KUDOS to you for putting it out there! Thank you very much!!

    • I’m so glad you liked it. For me, it was skin. I always looked at these teenagers with great skin the magazines – meanwhile I was a walking pimple. I had no idea the photos were touched up and that this wasn’t the “norm”. I mean, if is WAS the norm – EVERYONE would have been teen models! ha! 🙂 I think more people need to come forward about the truth behind modeling and the media.

  4. Wonderful Blog!

  5. Hey, perhaps you would like to share my blog, its aimed at people who are get on getting fit but don’t have the time to spare hours in a gym! The address is
    thanks, Rich

  6. Great blog! I also love the line that the best role models are the ones you see working out at the gym every day. That’s real live hard work!

  7. GREAT POST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yes, in the gym, so many wonderful role models!

  8. Bonnie,
    Thank you being truthful and authentic. I wish you had shared the photo of you and Steve in this article…

    Good job as always!

    p.s. Jody is rocking the pose!

  9. Having and also keeping the entire body you’ve got constantly wished depends upon your own physical fitness levels. You may have already been very active with some point, but there may be a lot of elements …fitness

  10. I would like to join GYM after reading this….

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