Spatiality and Temporality

Part of the Consumption and Public Life book series (CUCO)


“Fitness work out! You can save your heart, have better sex, improve your body and get back your good spirits” was proclaimed in 1995 on the April cover of Salve, one of the first Italian health and lifestyle magazines, echoing a global mantra that is repeated over and over again in countless fitness texts. Expert discourse, whether consolidated in a fitness manual or spoken by gym staff and trainers, explains that exercise is good for the body, helps to prevent illness, increases strength and vigour and maintains one's figure. Gym instructors and trainers characteristically claim that exercise is useful to “correct faulty postures” that the body “has acquired over the years”, to “eliminate” superfluous “fat”, to “tone” and “harmonise” parts of the body. Fitness discourse, especially as fixed in exercise manuals, is indeed a catalogue of detailed advice on how to perform bodywork, elicited by the spectre of body degeneration and complemented by broader lifestyle tips (notably on food, drink and posture) as well as heavily moralising considerations on motivation, character and selfhood. Such discourse is addressed to the individual, typically called into being as an isolated consumer by texts which play on the body-self relationship to sustain individual motivation. Fitness discourse is all about individual transformation and epiphany – work on your body to get a better, more authentic self. Yet, if we take a look at fitness workout as a practical accomplishment, rather than as a discourse, we discover that certain social arrangements are crucial to sustain whatever individual process might be in place.


Everyday Reality Regular Client Body Technique Beauty Salon Fitness Culture 
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Copyright information

© Roberta Sassatelli 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of MilanItaly

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