Fitness Celebrity vs. Fitness Pro: Part 2 – Shots Have Been Fired

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Today’s guest post comes courtesy of strength coach, Erica Suter. A few months ago she wrote an excellent article comparing fitness celebrities vs. fitness pros (linked below). Deservedly so, it made its rounds around the internet and reiterated a message I 100% agree with.

It was so popular she decided to write a follow-up and decided to send it my way to see if I’d be interested in publishing it up on my site. 

BOOM – enjoy.


Fitness Celebrity vs. Fitness Pro: Part 2

On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being the equivalent of a Donald Trump interview and 10 being a behind-the-scenes Sports Illustrated bikini photo shoot, this post is definitely a 10.

Perhaps I’m biased with my writing, or I’m adept in calling out fitness celebrities and shelling out my opinion on body image issues.

Even though I’m a 5 meager years into my career, I’ve seen a plethora of shenanigans in the fitness industry. Each day, I’m finding weird fads, charlatan trainers, and photoshop professionals.

Just when I thought being inundated with bull crap wasn’t enough, I’ve also been burdened with the daily task of fighting off Internet trolls with my Middle Earth swords. Alas, it’s a task I’ll gladly take on as a fitness blogger. Because 1) the world needs more credible information and 2) fighting with swords is badass.

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Moreover, it’s critical to discern the lies of fitness celebrities from the knowledge bombs of the fitness professionals. And after speaking out about why people shouldn’t follow celebs, one person begged to differ. And this comment ignited the bitch inside of me:

“It’s totally okay to follow Instagram celebrities who post shirtless selfies. People want more of that and find it inspirational. Fit bods are sexy because of what they represent: sacrifice, dedication, education, motivation. “

Granted, it does take a degree of sacrifice and dedication to look as ripped as Michelle Lewin. There’s no denying that.

Strike a pose

A post shared by Michelle Lewin (@michelle_lewin) on

But is it fair to generalize that only ripped trainers and celebrities represent this type of dedication and motivation?

I’d argue that strength coaches Molly Galbraith look incredible, or Jen Sinkler, or Allison Tenney, or Meghan Callaway, yet none of them go to extreme measures to stay lean. Nor do they practice fitness based on vanity.

Expounding further, another woman to look up to, Dr. Laura Miranda, one of the most athletic and intelligent coaches I know, looks stellar. Who is to say we shouldn’t look up to someone like her? Who is to say she isn’t dedicated?

And wait, she doesn’t represent education? Bite your tongue…she’s a doctor. Come ON.

So What Is a Fit Body, Truly?

A fit body represents strength, self-love, confidence, acceptance, and balance. Coming back to the education aspect my commenter mentioned, I’ve known MANY non-ripped, non-celeb trainers who hold Master’s degrees and phDs in exercise science. Not to mention, they’ve tallied years of hands-on coaching experience.

More cogent to the point, the smartest trainers aren’t self-centered freaks who live in the gym.

They focus on their clients. They get better at their craft to help others. They  comb through the exercise science publications, spend late night hours writing, travel nationwide to run workshops, and take time to design strength programs with progressive overload. They also hold the top certifications in the industry.

Okay, Back To Dedication

Sure, dedication is great. But what if people don’t want to always be dedicated? Or sacrifice their Friday and Saturday evenings at the gym instead of having happy hour with their girlfriends?

Personally, I’m a mid 20s woman who is trying to live in balance. Can you blame me? And in the past, I’m absolutely guilty of being motivated by such self-centered fitness icons because I deemed them “dedicated” and “hardcore.” Take Paige Hathaway from the Shredz Army for example:

My “aha” moment arrived when I scrolled through her Instagram and discovered several common themes – countless selfies in a bra and panties (no wonder you have a million followers, the majority being high school boys hitting puberty), pictures of pizza cheat meals, and more workout videos than has in its entire arsenal.

And for most of these people, from the moment they wake up until the moment they go to bed, either #gainz, their next meal, or their next workout consumes their psyches.

Ever thought that this all is actually DEMOTIVATING AS FUCK?

It’s too much thinking, too many extremes, too much tupperware, too many supplements, and not enough enjoyment of what you love about life.

Honoring your body and honing in on your personal fitness isn’t about the NO-EXCUSES-LET’S-MAKE-GAINS-BRO-AND-COOK-CHICKEN-AND-TAKE-L-CARNITINE-5-SECONDS-BEFORE-BICEP-CURLS mindset.

Wake up call: you don’t have to sacrifice shit.

It’s about compassion, acceptance, and finding what works for you in the moment. And if life throws off your fitness goals – pregnancy, a business project, graduate school exams, a sudden death in the family, a divorce with your spouse – all natural life stressors that alter your physique, it is OKAY. In my book, these are valid excuses, bro.


You should never beat yourself up about “slacking” or skipping workouts or not meal prepping like an OCD freak show. We all need a break emotionally, to fully retract from the pressure to be thin, cut, trimmed, toned, and lean.

After experiencing the “no excuses” life of a bikini competitor, I was burnt out after just three months, and after my show I stopped focusing on chasing leanness.

When I broke free from forcing my body into things it could no longer handle, my life became exponentially better in terms of relationships, work, and my inner peace. In this instance, a 10 pound weight gain after my bikini show made me BETTER OFF.

It didn’t make me any less capable, uneducated, or demotivated as a fitness professional. Actually, quite the opposite. It made me smarter because from this all-or-nothing experience, I was propelled to research more effective ways to program workouts for my clients, and to tap into more scientific resources.

Strength and Conditioning Research > The Tracy Anderson Method.

Now here I am, training when my body tells me I can, and taking rest days whenever the hell I want. Needless to say, I’m evolving as a human being and fitness professional. But more importantly, I’m growing into a fit body that works for me – one that breathes life into every ounce of my being.

About the Author

Erica Suter is a certified strength and conditioning coach, soccer trainer, and fitness blogger who has worked with athletes and non-athletes for over 5 years. She is currently a strength coach at JDyer Strength and Conditioning, and also runs her own technical soccer training business in Baltimore, MD. Her interests include writing, snowboarding, and reciting Lord of the Rings quotes to her athletes and clients.

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