"I avoided exercise for so long - simply because of how it made me look."

I do not look like this when I exercise. Exercise Barbie does.


There’s this woman at my gym who I’ve nicknamed Exercise Barbie.

Not in a mean way – I’ve got nothing against Barbie. Spent my childhood with her. We had many a lovely time together, driving to her Dream House with Ken in the passenger seat of the convertible.

But this woman always looks immaculate, regardless of what she’s doing. She could be on the treadmill, or doing really heavy weights on one of the machines, or smashing her way through a body attack class, or just doing stretches in really unflattering positions on the floor – but she always looks nothing less than absolutely one-thousand-percent amazing.

You know the type. Perfectly straight, smooth hair in an elegant ponytail. Perfect outfit – the latest neon shades of neon, of course – with matching socks and a glass water bottle. No sweat. No grimace of pain. Elegantly strolling from one end of the gym to another, looking like she owns the world.

As for me? At the gym?

I am that awkward person that takes longer than everyone else to set up their bike for spin, or put their weights on for pump. I am that person that wears dorky socks and a singlet that’s mostly wrinkled because who irons exercise clothes anyway.

I am that person who can never hold her balance during the tree pose at yoga. I am that person who can’t hold a plank for longer than ten seconds before my elbows and feet start sliding in odd directions. I am that person that looks really unattractive when doing push-ups or sit-ups or any kind of weight machine or strength exercise – just because, you know, it’s hard work and my facial expression generally indicates how much fun I’m having. (Hint: Not much.)


Most importantly, I am that person that goes bright red. A shade that princess Merida from Brave would be proud of. And it’s not just in the face – red splotches also tend to appear all down my arms and on my chest.

See that? Sweaty tomato.

This attractive red shade sticks around forever. Long after I’ve cooled down and can actually feel the breath returning to my chest.

This red face is accompanied by sweat. Plenty of it. And wet hair. By the time I’m finished at the gym, I look more like I’ve just come home from a dip in the ocean, during which I got incredibly sunburned.

So… nothing like Exercise Barbie.

We focus our attention on the Exercise Barbies of the world.

And being the silly person that I am, I avoided exercise for so long – simply because of how it made me look. I used to get so, so embarrassed when I played touch and I was that person turning bright red throughout the game while everyone else seemed to stay a perfectly nice shade of normal.

And I’m sure there are plenty more of you out there that get incredibly self-conscious while working out – regardless of where you’re doing it. (Unless you’re doing it in the privacy of your bedroom. No need to be self-conscious there. You WORK that booty-dance, Beyonce-impersonator!)

But the fact is that there are so many people out there who don’t look perfect when they exercise. They also tend to look sweaty, or tired, or unflattering. They also tend to resemble tomatoes.


But we don’t pay attention to those people. We focus our attention on the Exercise Barbies of the world, feeling bad about ourselves because we can’t ever hope to look as good as them while we’re trying to keep up during step class.

So I’m quitting the comparisons. I no longer care. I’m freeing my brain up so that it takes the focus off my red face and onto the amount of kilometres I’ve clocked up on the treadmill, or the level I’ve reached on my spin bike.

I don’t care if I don’t look like a supermodel at the end of my workout. It just means I’ve been working really damn hard.

So everyone, come and share your post-exercise face too, so that I know I’m not alone in tomato-syndrome:

CHALLENGE 5: My face after exercise. Calling all red faced, puffing people. This challenge requires you to get up and get moving and then show us how you look afterwards, when all of the endorphins are pumping. Tomato impressions welcome. Then share on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #mmbodypositive.

Alternatively you can email your photo to us on or you can upload the photo directly in the comments section. We will then collate the images and bring you an amazing gallery of beautiful faces, as they were meant to be.

You can learn more about the Body Positive Project and read about the other upcoming challenges here.


For nearly 25 years Fernwood has been helping women feel fit and fabulous through pioneering health and fitness programs and expert advice.

With 70 clubs Australia-wide, Fernwood Fitness are modern full-service fitness clubs with a huge range of group exercise classes, top of the line equipment and cardio gear, passionate personal trainers and food coaches, and a friendly motivating environment.

All of our clubs offer FREE breakfast and toiletries which adds to the unique Fernwood exercise environment.

Contact us today to experience the Fernwood difference.