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Super-snarky Perez Hilton sheds pounds, expands empire

U.S. blogger Perez Hilton arrives at the 2010 MuchMusic Video Awards in Toronto June 20, 2010. REUTERS/Mike Cassese (CANADA - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT PROFILE)


Perez Hilton hopes his loss will also be his gain.

The celebrity gossip-mongering founder of has shed more than 60 pounds over the past three years and has translated his interest in healthy living into, a new site that covers celebrity fitness.

"A website dedicated to health, wellness, fitness, happiness, seemed like a natural fit and an exciting next step for me," says the 32-year-old, whose real name is Mario Lavanderia.

Story continues below advertisement is the latest website dedicated to the workout routines, diet regimens and all around gorgeousness - or "hawtness," as Mr. Hilton would say - of celebrities. And while those who run such sites say they help to get readers off the couch and hit the gym to get Ryan Reynolds's sculpted abs or Jennifer Hudson's slim new waistline, critics say they are just one more way to gawk at stars and their bodies.

"It's a guilty pleasure, it's just entertainment," says Janna Prsala, a kinesiologist and personal trainer at Mixx Fitness Studio, in Vancouver.

The sites could even have an unintended effect, Ms. Prsala says. "When people look at an amazing celebrity body, their first reaction is, 'Well, they're so privileged. They have people who can cook for them, they have people who can train them, that's why they look like that. So it's impossible for me to do that with my life as it is.' It's hard to identify with them," she says.

Mr. Hilton says his new site strives to provide readers with valuable, practical information.

"I hope that [readers]get information and entertainment both. And I hope they can be inspired," he says.

Many of the posts, however, seem more interested in the type of gossip that made Mr. Hilton famous rather than in-depth fitness information.

While includes posts on the dangers of crash diets and several interviews with celebrities discussing health issues (including one of Mr. Hilton interviewing Jenny McCarthy about autism), other posts don't seem in keeping with the fitness mandate.

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A post about the singer Rihanna having dinner with her new boyfriend, or of George Clooney visiting Sudan, may satiate star-hungry viewers, but it is difficult to see how they will encourage readers to lead more active, healthier lifestyles.

Judging by their proliferation in recent years, however, there is clearly an appetite for such sites. "People pay attention to what celebrities do," says Andy Vega, who runs the website, which launched three years ago.

The site was successful enough to see the launch of Mr. Vega's other site,, which launched last year. "A lot of people feel that by following what celebrities do they can get pretty decent results themselves," he says.

Both of Mr. Vega's sites try to offer as much practical information as possible, he says, whether it's a look at David Beckham's weight-loss program, the workout Robert Downey Jr. used to get in shape for Iron Man or the detox diet Angelina Jolie went on for her role in Salt.

Each post, of course, comes with alluring photographs. Many people may want to look at those images, but there is a bigger reason for the growing number of celebrity-fitness websites, says Keith Girard, a former editor-in-chief of Billboard Magazine, who launched last year.

"Celebrities are really on the forefront of a lot of health trends, not only good but bad. And so things they do to stay in shape and to stay young ... are really of high interest to people who want to do the same," he says.

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And there is nothing wrong with pictures of fit celebrities, especially since they can be quite motivating, Mr. Hilton says.

"I know that personally whenever I see David Beckham shirtless, or Zac Efron shirtless, that really inspires me to work harder," he says.

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About the Author

Dave McGinn writes about fitness trends for the Life section and also reports for Globe Arts. Prior to joining the Globe, he was a freelance journalist, covering topics from trying to eat Michael Phelps' diet to why the Joker is the best villain in comics history. He's working on improving his 10k time. More

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