E!'s Hollywood Cycle: A Total Bike Wreck

A Series Epitomizing Everything Loathe-able About the Fitness World

Hollywood Cycle cast
Michael Tullberg/Getty Images

On the surface, E!'s new reality series, Hollywood Cycle, looks like it encompasses everything I love in life: fit people, a little bit of drama, and a whole lot of exercise (especially group cycling).

Then I watched the show and realized it epitomizes everything I hate about the fitness industry.

Don't get me wrong - it will probably be a runaway success for the network, and I couldn't help but get a kick out of some of the drama, but when it comes to my profession and how fitness is portrayed, I couldn't have been more disappointed.

The Hollywood Cycle Premise

The show's premise is fairly straightforward: Viewers get to witness the inner workings of the highly competitive Hollywood group cycling industry, where celebrity trainers are just as sought after as the celebrities they train.

The show follows Cycle House instructors Nichelle Hines, her brother Aaron Hines, and Nick Hounslow, Cycle House studio owners, Lara and Adam Gillman, and the up-and-coming instructor trainees, who I can only guess were cast directly off the street for their beautiful bodies, as they clearly have little fitness instructor background.

Which brings me to my problem with the show...

Everything I Loathe About the Fitness Industry

The world of fitness is obviously a visual industry ("Look at that guy's six-pack abs - he's so fit!"); and frequently a shallow industry ("I'll do whatever it takes to look as fit as her!"). While I understand why the visual side of fitness is promoted and exalted, the hyper-focus on looks and attractiveness can end up creating some very unhealthy behaviors and unbalanced habits.

For instance, in an all-out effort to "look fit," a person might reduce calorie intake too far or become an obsessive exerciser, both of which can lead to serious health problems.

The focus on appearance also downplays an important truth: Being fit and looking fit aren't always the same thing, and looking fit and being healthy are quite often different.

It's a somewhat-confusing reality that Hollywood Cycle further confuses.

The Problem With Hollywood Cycle

Here's the thing: My concern with Hollywood Cycle isn't just its focus on beautiful bodies - emphasizing the "hotness" of all the women flocking to Aaron Hines' classes, or the importance of looking good in a sports bra - but that it repeatedly displays a completely unbalanced and unhealthy lifestyle led by the trainers who are so, allegedly "fit."

For instance, you can't tell me that a day that looks something like this:

  • Exercise, exercise, exercise,
  • Obsessively worry about food intake,
  • A lot of yelling and drama,
  • Drinking to a state of drunkenness,

is even remotely healthy.

And yet, this is the portrayal of the trainers and trainees being idolized on the show as the "fittest trainers in Hollywood."

If that's what "fit" looks like, I want nothing to do with it.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all about exercising regularly, eating healthy and enjoying the occasional drink, but I firmly believe all of these can fit into a balanced, healthy lifestyle. It's the excessive, obsessive portrayal of fitness that makes the professional in me balk.

The Bigger Problem

Obviously E! is doing whatever it can to hype the show and create drama so people are motivated to tune in.

I'm sure the trainers' lives aren't as drama-filled and alcohol-saturated as what's portrayed on the show.

And yet, watching the trainers, I couldn't help but think, "I know you."

Not literally. as I've never met any of the trainers in my life. But figuratively, I've met all of them.

The industry is filled with them; filled with trainers and instructors who obsess about their own bodies, their own calorie intake and their own fitness schedules to the point of an unbalanced, unhealthy life.

The industry is filled with trainers who won't eat a cookie, but who regularly down 10 shots of alcohol during nights of debauchery.

The industry is filled with trainers who do whatever it takes to make their clients "look good," without worrying about their clients' long-term health - trainers who promote unhealthy behaviors for the sake of clients' "bikini bodies."

Buyer Beware

The industry is also filled with amazing trainers who want nothing but the best for their clients and who promote completely healthy behaviors. But in a largely unregulated field, it's up to consumers to seek out trainers who push for more than a hot body.

Even the trainers on Hollywood Cycle probably want the best for their clients (hopefully they wouldn't have achieved their success without this underlying factor), but for E!, portraying a completely healthy side of the fitness industry would make for a very boring show.

It's for this reason I'll be tuning out.

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