Wednesday, July 09, 2008

The commodification of exercise

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Of course, it is possible that the gym is being a responsible business and catering for its users who want to work out but cannot cope easily with climbing stairs (people needing physio, for example). But it doesn't look as if the people on the way in are in that category. One of the triumphs of modern culture is the packaging of exercise as a consumer activity that involves clothes, a venue, and money: you are offered the chance to effectively buy, or, perhaps, more accurately, rent, fitness at a rate of so much per hour. It is a triumph, because it works. I can remember thiking how handy it was that the gym is so close to work. It took a while to spot the flaw in the thinking. In how many lifts in how many office blocks around the world is someone saying at this moment as they step in "I won't get a chance to work out today".

1 comment:

Vonnie said...

Hi! I agree with you. I'm a cyclist and I'm beginning to notice the increase in the number of commercial cycle events that are springing up everywhere. Newbie cyclists call themselves keen cyclists and yet they wont go out on their bike unless they're attending a 'bigged-up' event... I've cycled all my life and I'm wondering why people can't just go out on their bikes with a group of friends instead of wasting money on big events. I know that having a goal and a means to measuring performance is good for motivation; but it seems like these motivational gimmicks are taking over the initial task, which is to enjoy riding a bike... If you keep at it, you improve anyway. On the flip-side, if you're unfit, you watch in awe as 'fit' people succeed at these high-profile events; and the idea of ever being able to do that yourself is ever more removed. If unfit people could see how exercise works as part of ordinary everyday life, surely they'd be more motivated to do it? Why do we have to turn everything into a showcase in order to take it seriously? At the end of the day exercise is just as important as sleep... We don't go to sleeping events...