Fitness Culture: Gyms and the Commercialisation of by Professor Roberta Sassatelli

By Professor Roberta Sassatelli

This book provides a sociological point of view on health tradition as built in advertisement gyms, investigating the cultural relevance of gyms by way of the historical past of the commercialization of physique self-discipline, the negotiation of gender identities and contrast dynamics inside of modern cultures of intake.

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Additional info for Fitness Culture: Gyms and the Commercialisation of Discipline and Fun (Consumption and Public Life)

Sample text

We need more precise instruments to consider what characterises fitness compared both to leisure and sporting activities with fitness potential (from swimming to dancing) and to body transformation techniques (such as massage, cosmetics and plastic surgery). This is especially so, given that the majority of these activities and techniques tend to be relatively more prevalent among the middle classes, particularly the new middle classes and within those, women (Sassatelli, 2000c). , 2009), we may start to consider some of 36 Fitness Culture the structural mechanisms that underlie fitness participation.

Similar dichotomies often correspond to disciplinary specialisations in the study of sport and physical activity at large. Physical education, medical practice and, to some extent, leisure studies have typically played the celebratory tune, stressing the physical benefits of the fitness workout, its emancipation potential and even its psychological paybacks. In contrast, within sociology, history and gender studies there has been a tendency to view the fitness boom in a negative light, stressing its commercial nature and its disciplinary functions.

Places for physical recreation began to appear which did not aim at public health, but expressed the local, working-class men’s need for working-class ways of doing exercise together, enjoy themselves, prove their masculinity and improve their bodies. A long-standing example of similar working-class clubs is the body-building gym (Klein, 1993). Comparing and contrasting body building with fitness is particularly interesting. From the dawn of the twentieth century, body building was seen as a working-class, masculine activity for body strengthening, aimed at achieving an aesthetic development of muscles (especially the chest: dorsals, pectorals and so on) by using weights and equipment (Klein, 1993).

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