Fit Or Fat: Nutrition and Exercise

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About Covert Bailey

Covert Bailey is a popular PBS personality and best-selling author on fitness and nutrition, whose Fit or Fat series of books has sold nearly 6 million copies. One of the first to emphasize body fat and body fat testing, he has taught millions of people about low-fat eating and adopting flexible exercise programs that are both fun and healthy.

Covert Bailey earned his undergraduate degree at Harvard and received a M.S. degree in biochemistry from MIT. He likes to say that his training in graduate school was spent with fit rats and fat rats.

Covert got started about 25 years ago when he taught nutrition at a community college in California. One day he was approached by a student who asked if he would speak for his father's club of dentists. Covert accepted and says, "They made two mistakes that day: (1) they clapped and (2) they paid me." He's been going strong ever since.

In 1975 Covert started the "Bailey Clinic," his traveling fitness show. He invented the first portable "dunk tank" - an underwater method for testing body fat - and took it all over the United States to show Americans just how fat they really are. Graduates of the clinic proudly wore buttons that read, "I got tanked at the Bailey Clinic."

As his reputation on the lecture circuit grew, his family and friends urged him to write down all of his easy-to-understand explanations of muscle physiology and metabolism. What resulted was a 20-page booklet called "Body Fat and Physical Fitness." He sold it for a buck in the back of his lecture rooms. It sold so well Covert said, "By golly, I think I'll write some more!" That little pamphlet grew and grew until it became a full-sized book called "Fit or Fat."

Self-published at first, it eventually got into the hands of the Houghton Mifflin Publishing Company in 1977. They didn't traditionally publish fitness books, but decided to take a chance with this one. It took five years for their gamble to pay off when "Fit or Fat" reached The New York Times best-seller list in 1983. In 1984 Houghton Mifflin published his second book, "The Fit or Fat Target Diet" which also became a New York Times best-seller.

In 1986 Covert did his first television series on PBS. His specials were some of the most popular in PBS history.

In between projects with PBS and lecturing, Covert also authored several more Fit or Fat books, including "The Fit or Fat Woman," "The New Fit or Fat," "Smart Exercise," and "Smart Eating." His newest book, "The Ultimate Fit or Fat," is a culmination of years of lecturing, writing and creating.

In 1995 Covert's daughter, Christina, came to work with him. Recognizing the need to support people one-on-one, Christina developed the Fit or Fat Systems coaching programs - Telecoaching and the Fitness Quickie. These programs allow individuals to get personalized fitness and nutrition coaching over the phone or the Internet, a service now available on


  • The Ultimate Fit or Fat, 1999
  • Smart Eating, 1996
  • Smart Exercise, 1994 (New York Times Bestseller List:1994)
  • The New Fit or Fat, 1991 (A Book-of-the-month Club selection)
  • The Fit-or-Fat Woman, 1989
  • The Fit-or-Fat Target Recipes, 1985
  • The Fit-or-Fat Target Diet, 1984 (New York Times Bestseller List: 1984)
  • Fit or Fat, 1978 (New York Times Bestseller List: 1983, 1984)
  • Houghton Mifflin Company, publisher of the Fit or Fat books.
  • Publisher's copyright information


  • Total Body Power Series, 1995
  • Smart Exercise, 1994
  • Beyond Fit or Fat Video Collection, 1993
  • Fit or Fat for the 90's, 1991


  • Smart Talk Series, 1996
  • Fit or Fat Woman, 1990