‘Wellness is Driven by Vanity’: Lucy Sykes on Her New Lifestyle Tell-All Novel ‘Fitness Junkie’

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By Tom Teodorczuk | 11:09 am, July 17, 2017

There is no single secret to cracking the summer bestselling fictional beach read formula but Lucy Sykes is certainly enjoying success applying her own recipe.

Having enjoyed fame in the 1990s as a New York ‘It’ Girl and then run her own children’s clothes fashion label, Sykes- married to the ‘Fashion Banker’ and financier-about-town Euan Rellie- has co-authored her second fictional tell-all Fitness Junkie together with writer Jo Piazza.

While their 2015 tome The Knockoff skewered digital fashion,  Fitness Junkie delves into the world of wellness and the extreme fitness pursuit incorporating naked yoga and clay diets.

Amusing and alarming in equal measure, Fitness Junkie is required reading this summer and  we found out just how much artistic license Sykes took with her new novel:

What is the underlying motivation for anybody to eat clay as depicted in your new book?

The reason people eat clay is to lose weight. Many Victoria Secret’s models and fashion editors eat clay for two weeks before the shows. No calories. My best friends started eating clay a couple of years ago, I found it fascinating that she was paying hundreds of dollars to eat mud. That was one of our first inspirations for the book. Apparently it does something good for your colon too.

Are the lifestyle trends you chronicle in Fitness Junkie particular to the East and West coasts or do they apply right across America?

I think we’ve really focused on the extremes of New York City which is the most fun to write about because it’s so over the top. I think Soul Cycle has become popular across America but the really innovative, edgy classes like hip hop yoga, or those run by my amazing friend Taryn Toomey, are only in NYC.  I think people are starting to care more about fitness everywhere, and sometimes it feels like society expects us all to be Fitness Junkies. I like exercise, but I like chocolate too!

 What surprised you about the lifestyle classes you attended?

I was amazed at the level of fitness from the girls who go to these classes. They are so determined, constantly showing up and pushing themselves. All Type A women, committed to getting it done, day after day. These yummy mummies are so fit, it’s pretty extraordinary. It’s also completely tribal. My husband watches football matches. I go to FlyBarre and Bari Studio. I’ve become really good friends with some of the instructors. I never expected that to happen. Some of the women literally fall in love with the instructors. I totally get it. These instructors have become our new gods and goddesses. We worship them.

 Is New York’s cult of fitness driven by taste or commerce? Or both?

Right now there’s a wellness trend which has blown up. It’s driven by vanity. Whether it’s a trend, a cult, a movement or whatever… it’s a big money industry now. Everyone I know wants to be part of it. Ath-leisure is dominating the apparel industry now, making more money than ready to wear. It’s gone beyond a trend, it’s bigger than that, it’s a way of life.

 How do current fitness fads compare with the aerobic boom of the 1980s?

I think it’s similar. The movie Perfect inspired me visually. But it’s not just a tight t-shirt and leg warmers any more, it’s a way of life. Karl Lagerfeld said if you wear yoga pants outside, you need to get a life… but he also said that the most fabulous white t-shirt and jeans were as good as the best Chanel jacket. Look at Alala or Bandier now. These brands are pushing the design envelope, and introducing technical fabrics which look good and feel better.

 Do a lot of people out there get the balance wrong when it comes to fitness or do you think you can never do enough to make your body a temple?

I don’t agree with either of those statements. We all know what we should be doing- it just depends on us whether we do it or not. A small percentage of people, like obsessives or anorexics and bulimics go too far. It can get out of control. It’s surprisingly easy to cross those lines. I suppose that is the cautionary tale behind Fitness Junkie. We’re all in a competitive group via social media. But to be really obsessed requires dedication, vanity, money and time. Most of us are trying to get by,  get a bit more healthy, and look a little bit better.

Does it feel odd that both you and your sister Plum Sykes have novels out in the space of a few months? You each have very different literary styles.

It’s been a tremendous help, being able to compare notes and empathize with Plum. It takes a lot of work. We did a twins fashion show on Fox 4 news yesterday. Yes our books are really different. I’m so lucky to have my sister, who is smart and a brilliant writer, being so supportive to me and Jo.