Time to Rethink How You Choose Your Fitness Role Model?

This post was inspired by fitness blogger Marion Shaw. In her recent post, she compares Gwyneth Paltrow with Gertrud Ederle and asks which one is the better athlete.

Is it the slim and willowy Gwyneth Paltrow who poses for Shape magazine or the strong and robust Ederle who swam across the English Channel at age 19?

I think there is a serious shortage of the types of fitness role models available to us.

Women who are portrayed on fitness magazines like Shape are almost exclusively actresses, singers and other celebrities with a certain body type. They are always discussed in terms of their looks, weight and diet, but no attention is given to what they are able to do and whether they enjoy their bodies at all.


I do admire the slim, muscular and long limbed actresses portrayed in fitness magazines, but never in a million years would I look like Kelly Ripa in my 5 ft 1 inch frame, short limbs and rounded feminine physique. 🙂 In all likelihood, nor would you.

Looks are not the only thing that motivates me today. I wouldn’t drag myself out of bed to look like Gwyneth Paltrow. What inspires and excites me is how good I feel and what I hope to be able to do in future. In one of my earlier posts I wrote that I want to be able to do 20 push ups in a row, dive head first to water and dance salsa for hours. And I’d like to add I want to feel strong and confident in my body and have lots of fun.


I wouldn’t mind having a fitness role model though.

Rod Harshcore at Yell Magazine makes a good list of female action heroes from Angelina Jolie (Lara Croft) to Sigourney Weaver (Alien).  I like Charlize Theron in Aeon Flux and Rose McGowan in Planet Hell (she gets a machine gun leg), but I don’t know if they can be my fitness role models. My role model should be small, fast, agile and strong(ish). Perhaps someone like personal trainer Lauren Brooks would do. She looks real enough.

If you think about fitness role models in terms of what they are able to do, who would your fitness role model be? Would you pick someone from the list of female action heroes (and why) or someone you actually know?





  1. Geez, I didn’t even notice that it was Gwyneth Paltrow when i posted that. I thought it was just a willowy beautiful blonde–which she is.

    I love that Jessica Beal can do a kip. Those are so hard. I’ve never been able to do one.

    Linda Hamilton looked in such good shape in Terminator.

    But I’m a very big boned person. None of these girls match my body type. I often think of Olympic weightlifter Jan Todd when I think of myself. Like Gertrude Ederle, she has a sturdy powerful body. It makes me want to expect more of myself in the gym.

    Otherwise, I’m just going to have to be a girl Rocky–but that would make me a Rockette–which is the name of the girls who dance in Las Vegas–our gambling city. I still can’t quite get that one right, can I.

    🙂 Marion

  2. Satu says:

    Hello Marion!

    I had to check up both Jen Todd and kipping. I found a picture where she lifts her husband overhead. 😀

    It’s hard for me to imagine myself doing pull ups (and push ups of course) at the moment, even though I know it’s just a matter of practice.

  3. My fitness role model is Cara Castronuova, the new trainer on Biggest Loser. She’s so real and I love her boxing background. It intrigues me.

  4. Satu says:

    I watched a youtube video where Cara Castronuova teaches boxing techniques. I understand why you chose her as fitness role model. Watching the video made me miss my fitness boxing days.

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