Gwyneth Paltrow, Oprah Winfrey and Khloe Kardashian are now more known for their work in the health and fitness industry than they are for their media presence. On one hand, this is great. Celebrities have huge followings, and by showing people that training hard and eating right are big parts of their lives, they potentially inspire millions to do the same. And we all get leaner, slimmer, fitter and become happier with our bodies. Or do we?
Celebrities know jack
I cringe when I see some of the advice given out by celebrity trainers, let alone normal run-of-the-mill celebrities who just claim to know about training. Take Bob Harper and Jillian Michaels from US reality show The Biggest Loser for instance.
Harper has his "skinny rules" which advise crazy practices such as going to bed hungry, not eating any carbs after lunch, and banning all white potatoes and artificial ingredients. Then you've got Michaels, who makes spurious claims like certain foods being able to boost your metabolism, as well as putting out some seriously sketchy training videos, using shockingly ugly technique.
These are people who are supposed to be educated in health and fitness, and have simply risen to celebrity status through their work. But the whole thing gets a hell of a lot worse when talking about TV stars, actors and singers who start trying to inform the public on how to eat and how to train.
Train for 5-8 hours a day and wear a waist trainer?
I'll refer back to someone mentioned in the introduction - Khloe Kardashian. While she's not too extreme with some of her workouts, at the same time, she does recommend and endorse unnecessary and potentially dangerous practices, such as wearing a waist trainer.
If you're unaware, this is like a seriously tight corset that works on the premise that by squeezing your waist in hard, you'll somehow manage to slim down. (Yeah, I just don't get the logic either, but unfortunately, because it promises a quick fix, it sells, and Ms. Kardashian is only too quick to jump on the money-making bandwagon.)
Next up, have you seen the movie Black Swan? If so, you'll know that Natalie Portman got seriously skinny to play her role, and while she wasn't carrying much body fat, she certainly wasn't healthy. To get into this kind of condition, Portman trained for 5 to 8 hours per day, and survived on a diet of no more than 1,200 calories. This is just an example of some of the terrible methods celebrities use. Yet we are easily lulled into following their advice.
This is their job
Let's say for a minute that training for 5 to 8 hours per day IS actually a good way to get in shape, and you don't run a high risk of getting injured or burned out. How are you going to find time to fit that in? A celebrity can do it, because they're getting paid millions of dollars to be in a certain shape for a role, or for a marketing campaign. For 99.9 per cent of the population however, it just isn't realistic.
By endorsing such extreme approaches, these celebrities create a false impression that their results are easy to achieve, when in fact, if you took the hours involved with training and meal prep (say 8-10 hours a day,) a normal person with a job, a family and a social life would probably be looking at five to six times the duration to make a similar change to their body. All of a sudden that transformation that a celebrity claims can be done in six weeks is more likely to take a normal person six months.
The curse of Photoshop
You know all those "shocking" photos of celebs without make-up on, that they use to show that somehow they're just like real women? Yeah, they might let themselves be photographed without facial make-up, but very, very few celebrities would ever let a semi-clothed picture of themselves appear anywhere without a million touch ups and a tonne of air-brushing. You'd be amazed at how different most celebrities' bodies are in real life compared to how they look in magazines and on the big screen.
Celebrities are NOT qualified
Just because someone has a big following and is an incredible singer, a phenomenal actress, or has sold millions of books doesn't mean they're an authority on fitness. Your accountant is probably a whizz with numbers and figures, and your masseuse can give a kick-ass massage, but you wouldn't trust them to write you a workout, so why would you give a celebrity the power to do so?
Be inspired but don't copy
I'm not for one minute saying that it's bad to aspire to have a similar physique to your favourite celebrity, or that you shouldn't admire their dedication and commitment to getting in shape. But to train like one of them is asking for trouble. They're not coaches (you only have to look at the downright disastrous workouts some post on Instagram, full of high-rep plyometrics, hours of non-functional core work, and endless steady state cardio sessions to know that.)
Many succeed in spite of what they do, not because of it, and just because they have a great butt or a toned midsection doesn't mean you should put your faith in their program design capabilities. Let them do their job - singing, acting, dancing or looking pretty - and hire an awesome trainer to get you to the body of your dreams.