Fitness Influencers, Just Because You’re Not Using The Phrase ‘Bikini Body Ready’ Doesn’t Mean You’re Not Selling The Exact Same Idea

New synonyms for the phrase come up every single year, and we’re sick of it...

bikini body ready

by Grazia Contributor |
Updated on

‘I see “summer body” programmes advertised everywhere, I can almost pinpoint when they’re going to start coming each year,’ says Monika Szpakowicz, personal fitness and nutrition trainer and founder of, ‘especially on Instagram, suddenly all you see is body transformations and quick fix programmes. I really don’t like it.’

Monika has been a personal trainer for 10 years and so naturally, she’s seen every trend come and go, and most disappointingly, the same tired, unhealthy narratives repeated year on year. Narratives that typically attract more women than men, and subsequently perpetuate the archaic, sexist idea that to be desirable as a woman you must fit certain aesthetic ideals. You must be slim but not too skinny, toned but not too muscly and have voluptuous curves but no excess fat. Body rolls are an absolute no no, hip dips are the enemy.

For most of us, this is not only unattainable but in trying to achieve the impossible it forces us down an unhealthy path for both our physical and mental health. Women go on crash diets and cut out entire food groups, exercise obsessively for days on end and attempt 8-week transformations. This is no more apparent than in the run up to summer.

In 2015, a Protein World advert for weight loss supplements was banned in the UK. ‘Are you beach body ready?’, the huge black letters read next to a picture of a model in a bikini. Accused of body-shaming and implying anyone who isn’t thin shouldn’t be on the beach, it received so much backlash the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) launched a ‘social responsibility’ probe into the company.

Protein World advert
©Protein World

In the fitness world, the slogan ‘beach body ready’ along with ‘bikini body ready’ quickly scuppered from fitness programmes. Reputable PTs, influencers and the rest of the world seemed to come to a consensus that the phrase is absolutely not okay to use in advertising. And yet, every year since, we see synonyms for the phrase come up again and again for fitness programmes.

‘Get shreddy for summer’ YouTuber GracefitUK titles a series of workout videos on her channel, ‘Get that peach to the beach’ another – Meggan Grubb - uses, with Instagram influencer Kayla Itsines too launching ‘SWEAT: Summer series’. These women have 14.6 million followers between them across Instagram and YouTube – and make no mistake, they are not alone, they are just three examples of a mass of influencers using similar slogans. Many, even still using the exact phrase. Just type in 'beach body workout' into YouTube and scroll endlessly through the thousands of videos selling the idea, many with millions of views.


Some of the YouTube thumbnails from workout videos...

Some of the YouTube thumbnails from workout videos...1 of 1

Some of the YouTube thumbnails from workout videos...

Because, as Monika noted – and you’ll likely have seen too - this time of year, most PT’s and fitness influencers start summer-based programmes as spring comes to an end. But let’s get one thing straight: any fitness programme that is based around summer is telling you the exact same thing the slogan ‘beach body ready’ does.

We all know what summer means: hotter weather, less covering up, sunbathing outdoors and publicly walking around half-naked. Essentially, summer programmes tell you that you need to look a certain way to look good wearing less clothes. Coincidentally, that ‘way’ typically means leaner, and so thinner – as you’ll notice all ‘summer body’ programmes focus on increased cardio, high impact workouts and eating for weight loss over bulking up for increased muscle mass (as is typical in winter).

For Monika, it’s not only the unhealthy pressure to look a certain way on the beach that worries her, but also the time crunch seasonal exercise trends put on people. ‘Putting short time frames on exercise, like eight or 10 weeks, the client is only going to worry about the before and after picture,’ she says, ‘And they might look really strong in the “after” picture but they haven’t thought about what happens after, if you’re trying to transform your body that quickly a lot of women will lose their periods, under-eat, train like crazy and hate every second of it.


Monika has been a personal trainer for 10 years...

Monika has been a personal trainer for 10 years...1 of 1

Monika has been a personal trainer for 10 years...

‘This is the worst part because exercise becomes negative, like it’s a chore,’ she continues, ‘they're not looking into how they're performing and how they're getting stronger, they see it as “oh just go there and get it done” and so it’s completely unsustainable.’

The unhealthy attitude to exercise not only encourages crash diets and over-exercising, but exercising according to one particular season also encourages a yo-yo effect that Monika says leaves your body worse off than before. For her, adopting a healthy attitude to exercise means seeing it as an entire year-round lifestyle change rather than an aesthetic means to an end when you’ll want to throw on a bikini. And actually, when you start to consider exercise a year-round commitment, you realise that how it effects your appearance is actually the least significant benefit.

‘When I have my first consultation with my clients, I don’t really start from how you look,’ she says, ‘Generally, you're supposed to feel your best right? So I want to know about your stress levels, your sleep, digestion and hormones. Plus, your appearance is affected by all of these little things together, it's not just about food in and food out, so you have to make sure you're recovering and feeling good to also end up looking good.’

In changing the way you view exercise, Monika hopes her clients realise that their life shouldn’t revolve around the way they look, and weight-loss in particular. ‘Exercise is an amazing tool,’ she says, ‘it can improve the way you feel about yourself, your sleep, your performance at work. I always ask clients “how is your sex life? How is your social life” These things are all important. I hate when people come in and only want to lose weight, it’s so much more than that. You can get stronger, fitter to perform, and the weight loss will come in time, it might be slower but it will be sustainable and you’re attitude to exercise will be better for your mental and physical health overall.’

And so, adopting a healthy attitude to exercise is not only important for your long-term mental and physical health, but it also drives down the demand for these summer based programmes- ones that most PT’s use not because they actually believe you should look a certain way on the beach but because it’s a foolproof profit-driver.

‘For PTs it's an opportunity to make more money in a short period of time unfortunately,’ says Monika, ‘June and July are really busy periods and in August when people actually go on holiday it gets really quiet, so for a lot of them this is the time they're trying to save money because they know they’re going to get a quiet period for a couple of months after.’

Essentially, it all comes down to how advertising targets women; preying on our insecurities at a time we’re most likely to feel vulnerable about them. These personal trainers know the messaging they're projecting is wrong, but the pressure is on to make as much money as they can in the busy periods. The irony of it is, perhaps if they abandoned these 'summer body' programmes in favour of more moderate workouts, they’d have steady consumers all-year round.

Down with seasonal exercise trends, we say, no longer will we be fooled by the ‘beach body ready’ thesaurus

Click through for our top leg, glute and core exercises..


Essential Exercises For Building Muscle In Every Muscle Group

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CREDIT: Sara Maese

glutes and legs

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CREDIT: Sara Maese


These may look scary to a beginner, but they're essential if you want to build your hamstrings and glutes- plus provide better glute activation than squats. Perform them in front of a mirror or personal trainer at your gym to make sure your form is right. Start with your feet shoulder width apart, holding a barbell (always start light, good form is essential to prevent back injuries so you need to master this before going heavy) with your arms extended. Lower the barbell to the floor, keeping your back straight, legs straight but not locked and pushing your bum out, until your barbell reaches the floor. You should only squatting into the movement if you're not flexible enough to reach the floor without. As you lift the barbell back up and reach the top of the movement, push your hips forward and squeeze your glutes.

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CREDIT: Sara Maese

Bulgarian Split Squat

The split squat is a great quad exercise, engaging your gluteus medius and tensor fascia latae (the side of your bum and hip/thigh region where people complain about hip dips) the lower you go. Aim to lower yourself until the quad on your front leg is parallel with the floor. If you find it difficult to balance, focus on one spot on the wall in front of you, and make sure to do them without weight at first until you master the form.

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CREDIT: Sara Maese

Hip Thrusts

The queen of all glute exercises, the hip thrust is also a scary looking exercise at first. Find a bench and position yourself so your shoulder blades rest on it with your feet in front of you, shoulder width apart. Place the barbell on your hips, with a barbell pad depending on how heavy your going), and thrust up into the sky. Clench your glutes when you reach the top of the movement, they will be on fire after a few reps. If you're worried about trying this one, you can always do it with a dumbbell or no weight at all at first.

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CREDIT: Sara Maese

Hip Abduction

These are great for ensuring the whole of your glutes are being exercised. Targeting the gluteus medius and your TFL again, you need to attach your foot to the cable machine, bend your balancing leg slightly, then move your other leg away from you until you feel a squeeze in your thigh. Perform the movement continously to keep the muscles under tension, clenching your glutes the entire time. These can also be performed on the hip abduction machine at any gym, which is even easier because you're sitting and use both legs at the same time - this means you can go heavier, although it's good to have single leg exercises in your routine to ensure you're not overworking one leg.

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CREDIT: Sara Maese

Sumo Squat

The back squat is extremely overrated when it comes to glute engagement, however having some sort of squat in your routine is important to ensure you're not neglecting your quads. The sumo squat provides the most glute activation of all the squats, as you can go lower. These can be performed with a barbell or by holding a dumbbell at your chest (or at your hips if you're on an elevated surface). Widen your stance to beyond shoulder-width and squat as low as is humanly possible, as you come up you should tense your glutes and push your hips forward.

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CREDIT: Sara Maese


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CREDIT: Sara Maese

Thread The Needle

This is a great exercise for your obliques, and is a step up from the regular side plank. Since holding a side plank can get boring and is more of a mental battle than physical, this not only adds an extra burn but makes the exercise more fun.

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CREDIT: Sara Maese

Slider Knee Tucks

A misleadingly hard core exercise, this will have you sweating like no other. Start in a plank position with your feet on two sliders and pull your knees into your chest.

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CREDIT: Sara Maese

Plank Twists

Another way to spice up the regular old plank, which I give up on more because it's boring than because I can't do it, plank twists give an extra burn to your obliques.

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CREDIT: Sara Maese


Working your upper abs, these are that one step further from the regular crunch. Start with your shoulders and legs off the floor with your arms outstretched in front of you, bring your knees into your chest until your fingertips are reaching your toes and repeat.

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CREDIT: Sara Maese

Russian Twists

Another great oblique exercise, these a great way to add some weight into your ab routine. You can use a dumbbell, weight plate, kettle bell, bag of sugar, whatever you want- just make sure it's almost hitting the floor and you're going through the full range of motion.

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