Janey Sweet, CEO of a high-end wedding dress company, has committed the cardinal sin of fashion: she’s been caught eating on camera. And in the front row of a fashion show, no less.
When her fat-phobic business partner confronts her over her use of “recreational sugar” and chastises her for committing the fashion sin of being larger than a size four, he also breaks some harsh news: Janey is not permitted to return to work for three months while she gets in shape.
Fitness Junkie centers around Janey’s experience in the stranger-than-fiction world of New York City fitness, giving us a brilliant send-up of our wellness-obsessed culture and the boutique fitness industry. She travels to a former sugar factory for a workout led by members of the Sri Lankan militia, goes topless at a Free the Nipple yoga class, tries recreational hallucinogenics at the home of a shaman she met at a juice shop (naturally), considers eating clay, and ends up on a fitness retreat-turned-tequila-fueled bender.
There are dozens of deliciously thinly-veiled (if also delightfully exaggerated) references to the New York City fitness scene. SoarBarre, the spin studio owned by female co-founders, where bright yellow is the signature color, is a clear nod to SoulCycle (if Soul’s instructors cursed and called members fat and lazy). SweatGood, the passport to fitness classes stands in for ClassPass (if instead of charging you a nominal fee for a missed class, ClassPass made a donation to groups devoted to speeding up climate change or promoting rampant bigotry).
And then there’s The Workout. An ultra-exclusive, invite-only class with ever-changing locations, where everyone is instructed to wear grey apparel, the instructor refers to her students as “seekers,” and bouts of Tabata, planks, and Brazilian street dancing are punctuated with guttural screams, rounded out by a group cry. It would be curiously similar to The Class by Taryn Toomey if not for the instructor’s more sinister motives.
Fitness Junkie is a brilliantly hilarious read for anyone, but a sinfully enjoyable take-down of the industry for those in-the-know.