© 2017

Devotional Fitness

An Analysis of Contemporary Christian Dieting and Fitness Programs


  • Provides a systematic approach of the field, suggesting an overarching analytic pattern for the variety of programs

  • Invokes the potential of embodiment paradigms and somatic approaches in cultural and religious studies

  • Is the only one on devotional fitness based on active participation in evangelical fitness classes


Part of the Popular Culture, Religion and Society. A Social-Scientific Approach book series (POPCULT, volume 2)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-ix
  2. Martin Radermacher
    Pages 1-11
  3. Theoretical and Methodological Background

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 13-13
    2. Martin Radermacher
      Pages 15-32
    3. Martin Radermacher
      Pages 33-59
  4. Body and Religion in Twentieth Century America: From New Thought to Bod4God

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 61-61
    2. Martin Radermacher
      Pages 63-89
    3. Martin Radermacher
      Pages 91-124
  5. Analysis of Empirical Data: Products, Narratives, and Theologies

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 125-125
  6. Theoretical Reflections—Reflecting Theory

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 249-249
    2. Martin Radermacher
      Pages 267-270
  7. Back Matter
    Pages 271-275

About this book


This book examines evangelical dieting and fitness programs and provides a systematic approach of this diverse field with its wide variety of programs. When evangelical Christians engage in fitness and dieting classes in order to “glorify God,” they often face skepticism. This book approaches devotional fitness culture in North America from a religious studies perspective, outlining the basic structures, ideas, and practices of the field. Starting with the historical backgrounds of this current, the book approaches both practice and ideology, highlighting how devotional fitness programs construe their identity in the face of various competing offers in religious and non-religious sectors of society. The book suggests a nuanced and complex understanding of the relationship between sports and religion, beyond ‘simple’ functional equivalency. It provides insights into the formation of secular and religious body ideals and the way these body ideals are sacralized in the frame of an evangelical worldview.


Christian body image North American fitness culture body and religion devotional fitness discourse and embodiment evangelical body image evangelical dieting evangelicalism in the United States evangelicals and popular culture spirituality and fitness

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Religious Studies (CERES)Ruhr-UniversityBochumGermany

About the authors

Martin Radermacher is a Research Associate at the Center for Religious Studies (CERES) at Bochum University (Germany). During his doctoral research in the United States, he was affiliated with the Department of Religion at Columbia University, New York. He completed his PhD on evangelical dieting and fitness programs in North America at Münster University (Department of Religion) in 2014 and has published in various volumes on contemporary religion and Christianity. He is co-founder and speaker of the newly established working group on evangelical, pentecostal, and charismatic movements within the German Association for the Study of Religions (DVRW). Besides the entanglements of sports, fitness and religion, his research interests include religion und space/materiality, contemporary religion and spirituality, the history of the study of religions as well as the theory and method of the study of religions.

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Devotional Fitness
  • Book Subtitle An Analysis of Contemporary Christian Dieting and Fitness Programs
  • Authors Martin Radermacher
  • Series Title Popular Culture, Religion and Society. A Social-Scientific Approach
  • Series Abbreviated Title Popular Culture
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Springer International Publishing AG 2017
  • Publisher Name Springer, Cham
  • eBook Packages Social Sciences Social Sciences (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-3-319-49821-8
  • Softcover ISBN 978-3-319-84247-9
  • eBook ISBN 978-3-319-49823-2
  • Series ISSN 2509-3223
  • Series E-ISSN 2509-3231
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages IX, 275
  • Number of Illustrations 5 b/w illustrations, 0 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Sociology of Culture
    Religious Studies, general
  • Buy this book on publisher's site


“This book, while about fitness, also explores the religious side of physical fitness and the role that religion plays in people exercising in their daily lives. … This book presents some interesting thoughts. I feel that the church should do different physical things to help reach out to their community and to improve the health and wellbeing of the church itself. This book will present me with some things to think about as I venture into full-time ministry.” (Justin Dilliplane, Resolved for Christ,, February, 2018)