Ethnography the gym communityPresentation Transcript
Ethnography- The Gym Community Christian Klupka
The Beginning• As I walked into Strom Fitness Center out of shape and sporting a larger stomach than most I decided it was time to get back into lifting weights.• Half way through I noticed frequent fist pounds and high fives between gym members who seemed to be close friends. I felt like a stranger in the student gym.• I was eager to learn the relationships with gym members and the motives of those who religiously workout.
Questions• What are the motives behind working out several times a week?• Just how close are the individuals who make small talk and interact in the gym?• How far will people go to achieve the perfect body?• Does the appearance of an individual outweigh the health benefits of exercise?
Research• Traveled to Planet Fitness in Columbia SC two different occasions. One morning and one night session after normal work hours.
Day 1• Tuesday February 28 2012• 5:30pm-6:30pm• 47 male 39 females present at the time.• Most men do little cardio and make their way over to weight lifting. Women generally stick to cardio.• Small talk was frequent with men at weights and at the water fountain. Most were very courteous and kind to one another.• Tanning beds were regularly used and mostly by men which seemed odd to me.
Day 2• Tuesday March 13 2012• 8:30am-9:30am• Interview with Mack• Age-32• Occupation-Construction• Ethnicity-Black• Height-6’2• Weight-Over 200 (Estimate)• Mack talked briefly about his relationships in the gym which remained inside the gym. Also his motives being health mood and appearance. His exercise was doctor recommended for high blood pressure. Mack wore Under Armor clothing and weight lifting gloves.
Body Image and Influences of the Media• Most people in the gym who workout religiously strive for the perfect body.• As I walked into the gym I noticed every wall was covered with mirrors. I could see my body in every angle and immediately felt self conscious of my body especially my skinny legs.• Because our culture puts so much importance on appearance it is hard for many to accept themselves for who they are and as a result people go to extremes to attain the “perfect body.”
Healthy vs. Unhealthy• Its proven exercise daily is definitely positive on your health.• It’s when extremes are used as the next step to attain a self accepting body that health becomes a cause for concern• Anorexia, Bulimia and steroid use are examples of the next step people take to see results and change on their body.• Mack- the man interviewed explained his main motive was high blood pressure which needed to be dropped.
Addiction?• Although never proven any claim a runners high after a cardio exercise.• Definitely could be considered a healthy addiction if done the right ways.• For any the feeling of soreness or accomplishment could also be addicting.• Body change and improvement is also considered a big motive for frequent gym use.
Conclusion• In our culture appearance plays a large role regardless of what some people think. In result of this most people feel the pressure to look completely fit and spend countless hours exercising. From my experience researching Planet Fitness in Columbia, I noticed a relationship and bond between the regular patrons. Most had small talk and a few laughs but mostly everyone was concentrated on getting in a workout. From my research I am certain that some people who spend numerous hours a week are very concerned with their body image. Men lifting weights frequently look in the mirror to see every angle of their body and make sure no area is lacking in muscle. As I left the gym after my second day of research I noticed a man who had ran for the duration of the time I was there, outside smoking a cigarette. For me, this gave me a better understanding about our culture and sometimes how we desire to be perfect on the outside rather than inside. To achieve true happiness we need to accept our imperfections and learn to be ourselves, rather than what we see around us.