Janey Sweet and her best friend, Beau Von B (née Beau Matthews), created a company – B – that designs couture wedding gowns for women size 6 and under. They never set out to only cater to a certain size, it’s just that well, Beau’s skin-hugging silks and lace were more suited for a let’s say a . . . “slender woman.” When Janie gains weight after a stressful year filled with deaths and divorce, her supposed best friend tells her to take a hiatus until she can make herself more presentable as the face of B. With Beau holding 51% of the company as well as a dated contract that Janie signed when she was drunk, Janie has no choice but to become a Fitness Junkie.
Favorite Quote: “Eff. The F word. Don’t make me say it, Janey; you know that word makes me gag.”
“Say it, Beau,” Janey growled at him.
“Fat,” he whispered.
Question: Do you know of any companies that require employees to sign a contract dictating they stay a certain weight?
Thank god Janey has more friends than jerkface Beau. Enter CJ – a first-generation Indian immigrant who has been on a diet since Janey met her in college – and Ivy – her cousin who became a SoarBarre spin instructor after she was hit by a bus and could no longer dance for the New York City Ballet.
Favorite Quote: “What diet are you doing right now?” Janey asked her.
“The Dr. Clay diet? Never heard of him. Does he work uptown?”
“No. I’m eating clay. Just clay.”
Question: What is the weirdest diet you have ever followed?
Not everything is as it seems. We get a peek into Janey’s cousin Ivy’s head. Even though Ivy is considered a fitness god, she doesn’t love having to be a bitchy drill instructor every day and feels bad calling people “fatties” and “fat sluts.” Also, Beau may not be exactly who Janey thinks he is. Dun, dun, dunnnnn.
Favorite Quote: “IT’S YOUR BODY, BITCH”
Question: Did you like the change in POV?
Janey escapes the rain by taking shelter in the Wandering Juice juice bar. The hot guy behind the counter with curly black hair and a dimple allows Janey to practice her flirting skills (“Chickens are very 2015”). For a forty-something Janey’s got game. She also meets Stella, a healer/intuitive/shaman/alchemist from the Upper East Side who used to model until she fell in love with an Amazonian shaman. She invites Janey to a super secret class called The Workout.
Favorite Quote: “I gave up texting for the lunar New Year,”
Question: Have you ever had your palm read?
Janey’s getting pretty bored on her hiatus. She and CJ decide to try out a Free the Nipple Yoga Class, aka topless yoga. Even though CJ can’t do all the poses because of her SoarBarre foot and Janey’s fancy new FitWand (a gift from Beau) keeps yelling at her in a British accent, Janey actually enjoys the class. She also runs into cute juice bar guy again and agrees to go on a date.
Favorite Quote: “None of that is true,” Janey replied, rolling her eyes.
“It is. I read it on Goop.”
Question: Would you rather do topless yoga with Anderson Cooper or the cute guy at the juice bar?
Janey fibs her way into The Workout studio where she sees Stella the shaman. Sixty minutes of movement including primal shouting, rope climbing, Brazilian street dancing, and crying like a baby in the fetal position leaves her feeling surprisingly awesome. She meets Sara Strong, the creator of The Workout, and has a super awkward conversation with Stella about not being invited to Sara’s ReVigor-8 retreat in St. Lucia.
Favorite Quote: “Stop comparing . . . There’s nothing sexier than someone who is content with herself and trying every single day to be better and improve on her own terms.”
Question: What do you think of The Workout? Would you try it?
At Ivy’s suggestion, Janey tries cryotherapy. An Eastern European woman yells at her while she runs for four minutes in a booth cooled to -10 Fahrenheit. Later she meets CJ for brunch and sees Beau at a table with his new muse.
Favorite Quote: “Is it wrong to Facetune my kids before I put them on Instagram?”
Question: Have you ever used the Facetune app before? What were your thoughts?
Ivy deals with insecurities while talking to her girlfriend, Kelli. (Would she have liked pre-SoarBarre Ivy?) Her bosses, Lemon and Ally, ask her to infiltrate The Workout and report back.
Favorite Quote: “Namaste, bitch!”
Question: What is more motivating for you? Someone yelling mean things or words of encouragement?
Ivy, CJ, and Janey go to an achuma ceremony at Stella’s home. There, Ivy finds out Janey has been to The Workout. Stella also tells Janey that she got her a spot in the ReVigor-8 retreat. Inside a geodesic dome on Stella’s roof, the girls drink psychedelic cactus soup under the stars and begin their journey. While under the influence Janey comes to the realization that Beau has been a bully her entire life. She later shares a blissed-out moment with a silver fox.
Favorite Quote: “Jesus Christ, she’s the most interesting woman on the planet,”
Question: Would you partake in an achuma ceremony?
Janey awakens from her haze to find she has an email from Silver Fox and agrees to a date. She gets ready for her date with Jacob (the juice guy whose name she doesn’t remember) that evening and meets him at the Wandering Juice.
Favorite Quote: “Well, you seemed like an adventurous girl so I thought you might be into dumpster diving.”
Question: Would you rather have a food service who comes to your home and prepares healthy meals or a personal trainer who caters to your schedule?
Even though Jacob took her dumpster diving, Janey is seriously into the single, hipster dad with a juice business. They almost share a kiss before her Fitbit on acid interrupts them. Janey gets a text from Stella inviting her to The Workout the next day at 6 am.
Favorite Quote: “Your heart rate is higher than average.”
Question: Would you sacrifice not working out to spend a morning in bed?
After a night of “the best sex she’s had since college,” Janey meets Stella at The Workout. She finds out Sara is trying to bottle and sell her addictive pre-workout tea. After The Workout Janey has coffee with Stella and learns the all-inclusive, super secret, ReVigor-8 retreat costs fifteen thousand dollars to attend. But on the upside, Silver Fox, aka Hugh Albermarle is an earl, so there’s that.
Favorite Quote: “The Wall Street Journal: COFFEE POOPED OUT OF BRAZILIAN BIRD SELLING BIG IN STATES”
Question: What are your impressions of Sara and Stella? Do you think anything fishy is happening at The Workout?
Janey and Ivy go to CJ’s twin’s birthday party (“Can you ride a miniature horse?). She runs into Anna, the head of customer service/ Customer Delight at B. Janey thinks back to when they hired Anna to deal with clients who couldn’t fit into B’s dresses. Janey learns that Beau has been telling the staff at B that she isn’t coming back.
Favorite Quote: “It’s actually weird how much I like it and how good it makes you feel. While you’re working out you don’t even want to die.”
Question: Do you consider how B treated women who didn’t fit their ideal shape fat-shaming? Do you think Janey feels bad about some of B’s practices?
Ivy is in group therapy for people working in the health and fitness business. Everyone is unhappy – the yogi is constantly told by her boss that she is fat, the founder BRO-th hates soup, and a paleo chef is secretly vegan. Ivy admits to having some secret pent up anger towards Janey and her “woe is me” attitude when she is, in fact, the lone heir to a chocolate empire. Ivy lies to her bosses and says she has attended The Workout. They buy her a ticket to the super secret ReVigor-8 retreat even though she hasn’t been invited.
Favorite Quote: “Welcome to the F*ck My Life Meditation app, guided meditations with a sprinkling of profanity that express how we really feel about Tuesday.”
Question: Who do you identify (or feel sorrier for) – Janey or Ivy?
Janey finds out from Anna that Beau has been telling the employees at B that she has fallen in love with a Swedish furniture designer and will no longer be working in the office. Janey goes on a date with Hugh to the ballet. After, while the two are dining at a gastropub Hugh owns, Janey sees Beau. She doesn’t talk to him but does send him an order of fries drenched in “pork lard, rendered and clarified.” Suck it, Beau.
Favorite Quote: “I keep a spreadsheet of all the information. Basic stuff. How many siblings, what restaurants they take me to, whether they like to go down on me or not.”
– If this is too racy a quote, here is an alternative. –
“She preferred polo . . . and not just the ponies,”
Question: Do you prefer Hugh or Jacob?
Janey and CJ attend a Tamil Tiger Boot Camp run by surprisingly polite former Sir Lanka militants. Beau is attending the same class with his new muse. We all fall in love with CJ a little more when she stands up to Beau for Janey (“You little shit,”). Beau pinches Janey’s love handles (“Still have a ways to go,”) and she miraculously doesn’t punch him but instead kicks his ass in a group challenge.
Favorite Quote: “You’re so fierce. You’re a fierce, fierce warrior queen and don’t you forget it,” she said. “Now let’s shower and find a bar where we can consume some empty calories and celebrate how fierce you are.”
Question: When was a time where you felt like you had the upper hand like Janey did?
Ivy’s group therapy buddy Summer (the yogi who is berated by her boss for being overweight) introduces her to Kate Wells, a thinly veiled parody of Gwyneth Paltrow. In between vaginal health tips and being stung by bees (“Mother Earth’s Botox!”) Ivy arranges to become Kate’s new personal trainer.
Favorite Quote: “We launched the new vagina skin-care line this month so I’ve been working nonstop.”
Question: Have you ever visited Gwyneth Paltrow’s website, Goop? What did you think?
Janey runs into Beau’s muse, Alizza at Wandering Juice. It turns out Beau fired Alizza when she suggested B collaborate with J. Crew to create affordable wedding gowns. Janey begins to see how much Beau bullied her into making business decisions. She wonders if the advice she gave Alizza – “You can’t stay in one place forever.” – may apply to herself as well.
Favorite Quote: “Don’t let anyone treat you like a yellow Starburst. You are a pink Starburst.”
Question: Is it a good idea to change your career even though you’re so established in a field?
It’s finally here, Sara Strong’s St. Lucian, fifteen thousand dollars, ReVigor-8 retreat. On the drive to the property, Stella tells Janey a little more about Sara and Kate Wells’ falling out. Later while taking a walk around the grounds, Janey hears Sara yelling into her cell phone and rage smoking a cigarette. Sara is furious because her special tea can’t get through customs.
Favorite Quote: “We’re like Thelma and Louise, except no one will die in the end,”
Question: Would you ever go on a wellness retreat?
ReVigor-8 isn’t exactly what Janey pictured. Instead of classes that make her feel good about her body as well as nurturing her soul, the retreat offers morning IV treatments, colonics, intense workout sessions with five-minute handstands as a cool down, and a delicious pot of clay for lunch. Stella admits this retreat is different from the others she’s attended but still believes in Sara Strong’s methodology. Sara was also able to find a way to make her tea from ingredients on the island.
Favorite Quote: “Super gorg. Love it. Post it. I’ll double tap.”
Question: Would you try a vitamin boost IV to help you get over a hangover?
Ivy digs deep into Sara Strong’s past. She finds out Sara was born in Jersey and has a tumultuous background that includes a daughter who she abandoned more than three years ago. Ivy flies to St Lucia to infiltrate the retreat. With the help of one of the cooks, Ivy sneaks two cameras into the resort ready to record secret workouts and meditation classes; instead, she finds an episode of Housewives Gone Wild.
Favorite Quote: “She really was Jane fucking Bond.”
Question: How do you feel about the use of the word “fat.” Does its sometimes negative connotations make you uncomfortable?
After waking up from a blackout after having only a sip of her margarita, Janey decided she wants out. She tells Stella she is leaving and is surprised the shaman is also unnerved by how different this retreat is from the previous ones. While listening to a TED Talk from Gabby Reece, Janey realizes Sara is an “inspirational plagiarist.” She starts to look for flights out of this mess when she hears screams that one of the women has had a heart attack.
Favorite Quote: “I’m the first one to tell you that the way someone’s life looks on Insta is bullshit.”
Question: Were you surprised when Janey paid so much money to go to the retreat but didn’t partake in any of the activities?
Ivy is conflicted on whether to share the video of the women partying with her bosses. She hears a scream and sees a woman covered in blood as a doctor applies a defibrillator. Her contact on the inside tells Ivy it was a “quick nip and tuck” gone wrong. Ivy calls an ambulance even though Sara Strong is adamant no one else become involved. Ivy debates telling Janey she is there but thinks her cousin would get mad. She sneaks away before anyone can question her.
Question: Carlo says the women “get what they deserve.” What do you believe?
Jacob picks Janey up at the airport and takes her to a “sober rave.” Janey passes out and wakes up in the hospital. She learns from the doctor she has amphetamines (most likely cocaine) in her system. Janey vehemently denies doing drugs. CJ yells at the doctor and tells Janey she’ll love her just as she is. We all agree CJ is #bestfriendgoals
Favorite Quote: “You know . . . I think it’s a lie that all women want to be skinny. I think we just want to be told it’s okay to look the way we feel.”
Question: Should Janey have been more skeptical of Sara Strong’s program?
Ivy gets a check for thirty thousand dollars from her bosses at SoarBarre for her undercover work in St. Lucia. She thinks about quitting. Later she goes to Kate Wells home to start their training. While working out, Kate tells her Sara was putting speed in the tea, the clay, pretty much anything her clients consumed to make them crave the high they got from The Workout. Ivy worries about Janey.
Favorite Quote: “If I wanted to be abused I’d read the comments section of my blog.”
Question: Do you agree with Ivy’s decision not to tell her cousin about spying on The Workout?
Beau sends Janey a “gift” while she’s in the hospital requesting she give him power of attorney. Jacob comes to visit and she breaks up with him. Later she goes to a “weight counseling” group in the hospital. She hears how her company and its size restrictions played a part in an extreme dieting plan that landed a woman in the hospital. Janey talks about her past with Beau and how he used her.
Question: Should Janey have realized earlier that B was “shattering people’s self-confidence”?
Stella visits Janey and denies knowing Sara laced the tea with speed. She does acknowledge she wanted Sara to succeed because she wanted a share of the business and the security the money could provide her family. Janey goes to visit Miranda Mills and her mother tells Janey she is the only friend who has visited. An anonymous tip from KW shares information about the drugs that may be in Miranda’s system. When Janey goes home, she finds a letter in a book her mother sent her. It tells her not to let Beau hold her back, she can soar without him.
Favorite Quote: “My mama always used to tell me that behind every great man is an even better woman. . . . I want more for you than to be the great woman behind any man.”
Question: Should Stella be implicated in any crimes Sara may be accused?
Janey decides she wants a day to day role in her family’s company. She also wants to help Ivy open her own business as well as build an app with Alizza to create affordable wedding gowns. Her lawyer tells her Beau is trying to sell B to a Chinese company. Sara Strong is in police custody after they tracked her credit card to a taco bell where she had spent $200 on gorditas.
Favorite Quote: “Beau was a vain little son of a bitch,”
Question: Does it surprise you that Janey’s feelings toward B border on indifference?
Hugh drives Janey to the meeting with the Chinese. She surprised Beau who is furious/nervous Janey has shown up for the meeting he thought was secret. In a calculated move reminiscent of the beginning of the book, Janey offers the men a bruffin. Janey leaves the boardroom content with the way the meeting ended and looks forward to a future with Hugh. She thinks of Beau having to live with the decisions he’s made and the death of their friendship. She bites into the bruffin and smiles as she walks into her new life.
Question: Was Janey’s fitness journey worth it in the end?