Health clubs and body politics: aesthetics and the quest for physical capital

Matt Frew, David McGillivray

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    At present, the western world wrestles with an obesity epidemic whilst, paradoxically, maintaining a fascination for the aesthetic ideal body. With the Scottish health and fitness industry providing the empirical backdrop, and drawing on the work of Bourdieu, this paper critically reflects upon processes of embodied production and consumption and the quest for physical capital and its referential symbolism. Using a range of qualitative methods across three case study facilities it is argued that as consumers seek to attain desired forms of physical capital, health and fitness clubs serve both to capitalize on and perpetuate cycles of embodied dissatisfaction. Although willingly subjecting their bodies to constant ocularcentric and objectifying processes, consumers are constantly reminded of their failure to attain the physical capital they desire. These processes not only mirror modern consumerism but also highlight a process of self-imposed domination. With external medical and media discourses exerting persistent pressure on the embodied state, desire for physical capital produces a self-legitimating and regulatory regime perpetrated upon the self within the internal environment of the health and fitness club. Therefore, as a venue for playing out aesthetic politics, health and fitness club spaces are anything but healthy as they oil the desire and dreamscape of physical capital, maintaining an aesthetic masochism and thus keeping the treadmills literally and economically turning.

    Original languageEnglish
    JournalLeisure Studies
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2005

    Fingerprint

    clubs
    esthetics
    aesthetics
    fitness
    health
    club
    symbolism
    Western world
    obesity
    domination
    qualitative method
    politics
    Physical capital
    Health
    Clubs
    Fitness
    industry
    discourse
    oil
    present

    Keywords

    • aesthetics
    • health clubs
    • body politics

    Cite this

    Frew, Matt ; McGillivray, David. / Health clubs and body politics: aesthetics and the quest for physical capital. In: Leisure Studies. 2005.
    @article{936afca943934c759053339e4b24749e,
    title = "Health clubs and body politics: aesthetics and the quest for physical capital",
    abstract = "At present, the western world wrestles with an obesity epidemic whilst, paradoxically, maintaining a fascination for the aesthetic ideal body. With the Scottish health and fitness industry providing the empirical backdrop, and drawing on the work of Bourdieu, this paper critically reflects upon processes of embodied production and consumption and the quest for physical capital and its referential symbolism. Using a range of qualitative methods across three case study facilities it is argued that as consumers seek to attain desired forms of physical capital, health and fitness clubs serve both to capitalize on and perpetuate cycles of embodied dissatisfaction. Although willingly subjecting their bodies to constant ocularcentric and objectifying processes, consumers are constantly reminded of their failure to attain the physical capital they desire. These processes not only mirror modern consumerism but also highlight a process of self-imposed domination. With external medical and media discourses exerting persistent pressure on the embodied state, desire for physical capital produces a self-legitimating and regulatory regime perpetrated upon the self within the internal environment of the health and fitness club. Therefore, as a venue for playing out aesthetic politics, health and fitness club spaces are anything but healthy as they oil the desire and dreamscape of physical capital, maintaining an aesthetic masochism and thus keeping the treadmills literally and economically turning.",
    keywords = "aesthetics, health clubs, body politics",
    author = "Matt Frew and David McGillivray",
    note = "Originally published in: Leisure Studies (2005), 24 (2), pp.161-175.",
    year = "2005",
    month = "4",
    day = "1",
    doi = "10.1080/0261436042000300432",
    language = "English",

    }

    Health clubs and body politics: aesthetics and the quest for physical capital. / Frew, Matt; McGillivray, David.

    In: Leisure Studies, 01.04.2005.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    TY - JOUR

    T1 - Health clubs and body politics: aesthetics and the quest for physical capital

    AU - Frew, Matt

    AU - McGillivray, David

    N1 - Originally published in: Leisure Studies (2005), 24 (2), pp.161-175.

    PY - 2005/4/1

    Y1 - 2005/4/1

    N2 - At present, the western world wrestles with an obesity epidemic whilst, paradoxically, maintaining a fascination for the aesthetic ideal body. With the Scottish health and fitness industry providing the empirical backdrop, and drawing on the work of Bourdieu, this paper critically reflects upon processes of embodied production and consumption and the quest for physical capital and its referential symbolism. Using a range of qualitative methods across three case study facilities it is argued that as consumers seek to attain desired forms of physical capital, health and fitness clubs serve both to capitalize on and perpetuate cycles of embodied dissatisfaction. Although willingly subjecting their bodies to constant ocularcentric and objectifying processes, consumers are constantly reminded of their failure to attain the physical capital they desire. These processes not only mirror modern consumerism but also highlight a process of self-imposed domination. With external medical and media discourses exerting persistent pressure on the embodied state, desire for physical capital produces a self-legitimating and regulatory regime perpetrated upon the self within the internal environment of the health and fitness club. Therefore, as a venue for playing out aesthetic politics, health and fitness club spaces are anything but healthy as they oil the desire and dreamscape of physical capital, maintaining an aesthetic masochism and thus keeping the treadmills literally and economically turning.

    AB - At present, the western world wrestles with an obesity epidemic whilst, paradoxically, maintaining a fascination for the aesthetic ideal body. With the Scottish health and fitness industry providing the empirical backdrop, and drawing on the work of Bourdieu, this paper critically reflects upon processes of embodied production and consumption and the quest for physical capital and its referential symbolism. Using a range of qualitative methods across three case study facilities it is argued that as consumers seek to attain desired forms of physical capital, health and fitness clubs serve both to capitalize on and perpetuate cycles of embodied dissatisfaction. Although willingly subjecting their bodies to constant ocularcentric and objectifying processes, consumers are constantly reminded of their failure to attain the physical capital they desire. These processes not only mirror modern consumerism but also highlight a process of self-imposed domination. With external medical and media discourses exerting persistent pressure on the embodied state, desire for physical capital produces a self-legitimating and regulatory regime perpetrated upon the self within the internal environment of the health and fitness club. Therefore, as a venue for playing out aesthetic politics, health and fitness club spaces are anything but healthy as they oil the desire and dreamscape of physical capital, maintaining an aesthetic masochism and thus keeping the treadmills literally and economically turning.

    KW - aesthetics

    KW - health clubs

    KW - body politics

    U2 - 10.1080/0261436042000300432

    DO - 10.1080/0261436042000300432

    M3 - Article

    ER -