Fitness culture

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Fitness culture is a sociocultural phenomenon which refers to the culture surrounding physical exercises. It is usually associated with gym culture, as doing physical exercises in locations such as gyms, wellness centres and health clubs is a popular activity. An international survey found that more than 27% of world total adult population attends fitness centres, and that 61% of regular exercisers are currently doing "gym-type" activities.[1]

Development

Gymnastics of ancient Greece and Rome

In ancient Greece and Rome, a public place devoted to athletes training, called gymnasion (plural: gymnasia) for Greeks and palaestra (plural: palaestrae) for Romans existed in cities. Fitness was regarded as a concept shaped by two cultural codes: rationalization and asceticism; authenticity and hedonism, respectively. In Greece, gymnastic excellence was regarded as a noble and godly pursuit, and was included in a complete education. Gymnasiums became the center of the community, being associated with the arts, the study of logic, and a source of entertainment. Skilled athletes attained an elevated status and devoted their lives to becoming proficient in exercise.[2]

From around 1800, gymnastics developed in Western countries was meant to enhance body in order to sustain public morals and to mold better citizens.[3] Pehr Henrik Ling was a pioneer in the teaching of physical education in Sweden, and he sought to reform and improve the gymnastics of the ancient Greeks. In 1850, the Supreme Medical Board of Russia reported to their emperor on Ling's system, that by improving one's overall fitness, an athlete became superior to those who merely focused on a subset of muscles or actions.[2] In the mid 19th century the world saw the rise of physical culture, a movement that emphasized the importance of physical exercise for men, women, and children alike. Diocletian Lewis, a physician, even advocated for males and females exercising together in the gym.[4]

World War II

Leading up to and during World War II, totalitarian regimes used gymnastics as a way to promote their ideologies.[3] Physical fitness was at the core of Nazi philosophy, and the German government financed the construction of sports and wellness facilities. In 1922, the Nazi Party established the Hitler Youth, where children and adolescents participated in physical activities to develop both their physical and mental fitness.[5] Nazi sports imagery served the purpose of promoting the myth of "Aryan" racial superiority, and in 1933, an "Aryans only" policy was instituted in all German athletic organizations.[6]

In the Soviet Union, the Leninist Young Communist League created the Ready for Labour and Defence of the USSR in 1931, which was a fitness program that was designed to improve public health and prepare the population for highly productive work and the defense of "the motherland".[7]

The Cold War

During the Cold War, a focus on physical fitness emerged in both the United States and the Soviet Union. Senator Hubert Humphrey gravely warned that communist dominance came from superior sports and fitness programs. His remarks reflected the growing American paranoia of communism. In response, leaders of the military, civilian government, and private sector began crafting a "cult and ritual of toughness".[8] President John F. Kennedy issued a call to the nation urging Americans to prioritize their physical fitness across the country. Fitness was clearly described as a "matter of achieving an optimum state of well-being" that required exercise from both young and old.[9] This focus on fitness also opened the doors for female athletes in both the U.S. and the USSR to become more prominent as contenders in the Olympics.[10]

Commercialization and Quantified Self

After World War II, a new form of non-organized, individualistic, health-oriented physical and recreational activities such as jogging began to prevail. For instance, aerobics – a form of group gymnastic activity performed with the support of music – was developed in the 1970s. Gyms were set up with the goals not to improve public health but to stimulate and exploit the desire of people to keep fit, have fun and improve themselves. It can also be observed in today’s gyms where bodybuilders are trying to reach their aesthetic ideas, through muscle development, using weights and other equipment.[3]

Nowadays, fitness has been commercialized. The term gym is often associated with the term fitness and going to gyms means doing exercises in fitness institutions such as fitness centres, health clubs or gym clubs where people have to pay for membership in order to use fitness equipment and participate in group fitness activities with instructors, such as aerobics and yoga classes.[3]

In addition, advances in technology have changed the way of doing fitness activities. Quantified Self becomes a new phenomenon, where people use technological devices to support their workouts. It is characterized by the use of gadgets such as pedometer, GPS, heart rate monitor and smartphone apps to quantify or monitor the exerciser’s efforts.[11]

Influences

Mass media

Mass media plays an important role in shaping fitness culture because of the messages of an ideal body image they convey. Media such as TV, magazines and book publications, tend to promote slimness or even thinness as the ideal standards of female body image and slenderness or muscularity as the ideal male body image.[12] Commercial advertisements have also created an influential and powerful force in promoting a stereotype of ideal body image which is not limited to fashion advertisements. Advertisements on commodities such as watches, smartphones and household appliances, have promoted an idealized body image of women and men as well. The perception of being slim and thin for women and slender and muscular for men became a stereotype in society, creating sociocultural pressures and influencing people to engage in fitness in order to pursuit the ideal body image promoted by the mass media.[13]

Exercising and dieting is often seen as the best way to achieve such ideal body image. For instance, fitness publications promote an idea that doing physical exercise is the natural medicine to your body and health.[14] On the other hand, fashion magazines promote slimness and thinness as the ideal female image: to promote high fashion, models are usually slim and thin. There is also a significant increase of diet and weight loss articles in magazines.[13] In addition, the shape of models has changed dramatically towards a “more tubular female form” in high fashion culture,[13] often sparking controversies.[15]

Peer influence

People who regularly attend fitness institutions tend to make friends at these locations. They want to feel part of a group, which can be referred to community feeling, as the behaviour of group membership is transmitted from member to member within a group. However, this kind of friendship usually remains restricted within the fitness institution.[16] Besides, the atmosphere in fitness institutions created by people with the same goal becomes a force of motivation. When people go to fitness institutions or start a new activity, they can be encouraged by others and give support to each other.[14]

In addition, fitness institutions can function as dating agencies, creating chances to meet people apart from workplaces. Music, body movement and costumes of people exercising, can easily draw attention and become an occasion to engage with each other.[17]

Another important aspect of fitness culture is the gender differentiation in exercises performed. One study showed that women prefer to do cardiovascular exercise over weight training because it allows them to gain strength without transgressing norms for feminine physical appearance, whereas men prefer other exercises like bodybuilding or boxing in order to be more muscular.[17]

Personal trainers

Fitness institutions are places where people can cultivate their individual needs in terms of keeping fit and having fun with other people. They have been developed as a commercial environment since 1980s.[3] The concept beyond this commercial aspect can be explained by the idea of making the best use of time because people must pay for their membership in order to join a fitness institution. Thus, they are considered customers. Fitness institutions are trying to explore the market by providing extra services such as personal trainers, coaches and experts.[17]

Personal trainers act as representative roles that represent the fitness club. It is a kind of representation for customers in term of satisfaction and loyalty to that particular fitness institution. Trainers also act as brokers, or agents, to create a link between the activities of their customers and the purchase of extra goods and services that their customers need for particular activities such as shoes for specific training, clothing, or home equipment. Trainers are also motivators of the goods and services. They are required to have technical skills in order to provide professional fitness services to their customers and they need to have good communication skills meant to persuade their customers to do more in the fitness institution, which in turn means purchasing more goods and services. Finally, personal trainers also act as entrepreneurs: creating a large network of customers for different goods and services in order to produce profits.[17] From this point of view, personal trainers are intermediaries between customers and the fitness institution, playing a crucial role in the commercialization of fitness culture.[18]

The popularity of personal trainers can be explained by the analysis of rule-governed behaviour in terms of evolutionary thinking. From this perspective, personal trainers act as speaker to give rules, while trainees are listeners to follow the rules. Much human behaviour starts out from rule-governed behaviour and switches to long-term control. Whether the trainees will continue the training depends on the reinforcement by following the rule of personal trainers, because being fit and bodily well-being is a long-term contingency of fitness activities.[19]

The role of personal trainers has also revealed a phenomenon which can be explained from the sociological perspective of "outsourced-self".[20] This means “transferring our own responsibility to other”.[18] Keeping healthy and well are people’s own responsibility, however people are hiring personal trainers to be responsible for it. It is also relevant to the perspective of "body work" in the sociology of body: people are outsourcing their own bodies to the paid workers in order to keep healthy and prevent illness.[21]

Sport fashion

Sport fashion is a product created by commercialization of fitness culture. As mentioned above, personal trainers also act as agents to sell different goods and services. An example is the case of Body Training System (BTS). BTS instructors are suggested to change their costume according to the programmes in order to show the differences in character. The aim is to aspire the trainees to purchase the same costume offered by the programmes.[22]

Besides, sport wear and athletic footwear has become the fastest growing segment in the apparel market. The trend in sport wear frames it not only for sport activities but also as daywear or weekend wear. While classic sport brands continue to expand their market share in the industry, high fashion brands have also joined the competition.[23]

Variety of exercises

Types of exercises

There is a decrease in popularity of “pure aerobics” exercises.[14] The attention is moving from aerobics, bodybuilding and traditional technique of exercises, to new forms of exercises such as:

Branded exercises

Exercises have been commercialized as branded exercises by fitness institutions. Branded exercises are group workouts developed by fitness institutions for people with different goals of fitness.

See also

References

  1. ^ Burgess, Tim. 2013. “Fitness is the World’s Biggest Sport”. Les Mills Global Consumer Fitness Survey. Les Mills
  2. ^ a b Cheever, David W. (1 May 1859). "The Gymnasium". The Atlantic. The Atlantic Monthly Group. Retrieved 19 March 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Fit Bodies. Fitness Culture and Gym Sassatelli, Roberta. 2006.
  4. ^ Lewis, Diocletian (1 August 1862). "The New Gymnastics". The Atlantic. The Atlantic Monthly Group. Retrieved 19 March 2015. 
  5. ^ "How did the Nazis control leisure?". The Holocaust Explained. London Jewish Cultural Centre. 2011. Retrieved 19 March 2015. 
  6. ^ "The Nazi Olympics Berlin 1936". United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. 20 June 2014. Retrieved 19 March 2015. 
  7. ^ The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (3rd ed.). The Gale Group, Inc. 2010. 
  8. ^ Kurt Edward Kemper (2009). College Football and American Culture in the Cold War Era. University of Illinois Press. pp. 19–20. ISBN 978-0-252-03466-4. 
  9. ^ Neu, Frank R. (1 November 1961). "We May Be Sitting Ourselves to Death". The Atlantic. The Atlantic Monthly Group. Retrieved 19 March 2015. 
  10. ^ David G. McComb (1998). Sports: An Illustrated History. Oxford University Press. p. 123. ISBN 978-0-19-510097-6. 
  11. ^ Dyer, James (March 2016). "Quantified Bodies". Digital Culture & Society. 2 (1): 161. Retrieved May 2016.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  12. ^ Pressure Increasingly Affects Boys Jamie Santa Cruz. 2014, The Atlantic
  13. ^ a b c Brown, Kirsty. 1997. “From Fashion to Fitness? A Sociocultural Analysis of the Representation of Thinness within the Mass Media”. University of Toronto
  14. ^ a b c Sassatelli, Roberta. 2000. “The Commercialization of Discipline: Keep-fit Culture and its Values”. Journal of Modern Italian Studies, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp396–411
  15. ^ Former Vogue editor: The truth about size zero Kirstie Clements. 2013. The Guardian
  16. ^ Crossley, Nick. 2006. “In the Gym Motives, Meaning and Moral Careers”. Body and Society, Volume 12, No.3, pp23–50. SAGE Publications
  17. ^ a b c d Sassatelli, Roberta. 2010. Fitness Culture Gym: Gyms and the Commercialization of Discipline and Fun. Palgrave Macmillan
  18. ^ a b Maguire, Jennifer Smith. 2001. “Fit and Flexible: the Fitness Industry, Personal Trainers and Emotional Service Labor”. Sociology of Sport Journal, 18, pp379–402
  19. ^ Baum, William M. 1995. “Rules, Culture and Fitness”. The Behavior Analyst, 18, pp1–21
  20. ^ Hochschild, Arlie Russell. 2012. The Outsourced Self: Intimate Life in Market Times. Metropolitan Books
  21. ^ Gimlin, Debra. 2007. “What Is ‘Body Work’? A Review of the Literature”. Sociology Compass, Volume 1, Issue 1, pp353–370
  22. ^ Felstead, Alan, Fuller, Alison, Jewson, Nick, Kakavelakis, Konstantinos and Unwin, Lorna. 2007. “Grooving to the Same Tunes? Learning, Training and Productive Systems in the Aerobics Studio”. Work, Employment & Society, Volume 21(2): pp189–208. SAGE Publications
  23. ^ Why Fitness is Having a Moment in Fashion Vingan, Alyssa. 2014. Fashionista.
Retrieved from "https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Fitness_culture&oldid=831770059"
This content was retrieved from Wikipedia : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fitness_culture
This page is based on the copyrighted Wikipedia article "Fitness culture"; it is used under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License (CC-BY-SA). You may redistribute it, verbatim or modified, providing that you comply with the terms of the CC-BY-SA