First of all, fitness models are no slouches. It requires years of difficult training and months of rigid, restrictive dieting even to make it on an amateur stage — never mind a professional one. It’s a hard road, so much respect to the women who do it.
However, it’s hard to argue that as a practice, fitness modeling really highlights athleticism — i.e. the performance of tasks. This video kind of sums it all up for me.
Physique competition is better understood as a body modification subculture, not a sport, nor — this is key — a role model for most women’s fitness. Ironic, of course, since “model of fitness” would be implied by the job title. Also ironic that women competing as fitness models do have an all-round athleticism — strength, flexibility, fluidity of movement, work capacity — that would be a great thing to emulate. However, sadly, the athleticism of these women is generally overlooked in favour of the fitness-industrial complex chewing them up into supplement hawkers and spitting them out as metabolically damaged (as Scott Abel has extensively critiqued).
I maintain that a wicked “fitness model” competition would dump the eeny-weeny bikinis, makeup, and Lucite heels, and get the ladies running some bitchin’ obstacle courses!