Food TV: Eye Candy for Fitness Fiends

Brownies and fried chicken may be the last things you'd expect to see on TV at the gym, but look around -- cooking shows are dominating the screens of some fitness fiends.

The old days of exercising to the pulsing bass of music videos on MTV are out and watching celebrity chefs whip up gourmet meals is in. But is working out to cooking shows just the latest craze? Or is something more troubling at the heart of this growing trend?

Diet and exercise go hand in hand with weight loss. Those looking to shed a few pounds tend to increase their exercise and decrease their food intake. So it seems contradictory that dieters would watch more food television programming when attempting to cut back on consumption.

But gymgoers across the country are noticing an increased presence of food programming at workout time, and some say their gym experience just isn't the same without it -- for better or worse.

Food Network is always on the screen when Floridian Faith Hopler works out.

"I work out three times a week and I usually turn on the Food Network," said Hopler.

And she's not alone. After talking with ABC News, Hopler posed the question to readers of her blog, Apartment Therapy: Kitchen, asking, "Do you watch food network at the gym?"

The responses flooded in. Some said they watch food programming at the gym because it's inspirational.

"Sometimes you need to dangle a carrot in front of a bunny to make him run," reads one posting. "It definitely motivates me to run that extra 20 minutes so I can indulge in a double chocolate fudge cake later that night."

Others wrote that cooking shows help them exercise and live better.

"It puts me in a healthful frame of mind, which tends to lead me to better choices for upcoming meals," posted Kelly H.

Even superslim television host Kelly Ripa incorporates cooking shows into her calorie-burning workout routine.

"I put on the Food Network and get on the treadmill!" she tells Us magazine.

If You Can't Stand the Heat, Get Out of the Kitchen -- er, Gym

But not everyone is happy about what's cooking at the gym. Cristina Velez, a 27-year-old attorney, said she can't seem to escape Food Network at the gym, and it's ruining her workout.

"You go there and it's packed, it's on at least one of the big televisions above and if you're in one of the cardio areas, it's unavoidable," complained Velez.

While watching cooking shows motivates some to run faster, bike longer or go the extra mile, for others like Velez, Food Network at the gym is a demon capable of ruining her routine.

"You're at the gym trying to maintain a certain health level, so the last thing you want to be thinking about after you've burned off all your calories and you're trying to maintain your weight is all of the delicious things you can't have," said Velez.

Despite her dislike for food at the gym, Velez admits she tunes into Food Network at home.

"It's funny because I watch Food Network at home, but I can't watch at the gym because when I leave the gym all I want to do is eat," said Velez.

While Velez has her reasons for avoiding the Food Network, those who do watch may have perfectly healthy reasons for tuning into the Food Network, but experts say there may be cause for concern behind other motivations.

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