Accepted Paper:

Technologies of fitness: CrossFit, body politics and embodied wellbeing.  


Ian Wellard (Canterbury Christ Church University)

Paper short abstract:

The fitness industry creates new forms of knowledge about the body influenced by science, health, consumer markets and social constructions of the fit body. Using Foucauldian theory and the example of CrossFit, an exploration of the technologies of fitness operating upon the individual is offered

Paper long abstract:

The recent rapid growth of the 'fitness industry' has created new knowledge about the body influenced by technologies of fitness that are informed by science, health imperatives, consumer markets and social constructions of the fit (or ideal) body (Pronger 2002). These new forms of knowledge generate complex relationships of power that are expressed internally and externally by individuals. However, these relationships of power are not presented as acts upon other individuals, they are, as Foucault (1978) suggests, actions upon another actions. Central to the formation of 'knowledge' about the body are technologies of fitness that are legitimised and sanctioned through claims of scientific 'truths'. By incorporating historical analysis of the emergence of ideas that were constructed in arbitrary ways, Foucault's genealogical approach revealed 'regimes of truth' (Foucault 1980:131) that were not consciously imposed by one dominant group over another but are constantly being reformulated through new ways of thinking. While it is not the intention in this paper, to present a genealogy of power within the context of health and fitness, the focus is, nevertheless, an attempt to understand the will to truth operating in relation to 'wellbeing' and individual pursuits of fitness. By using the example of CrossFit, and recent auto-ethnographic research conducted whilst taking part in a period of intensive CrossFit training, an exploration is made of the relationships of power that are informed by contemporary public policy, body politics, medical and scientific theory and broader discourses of contemporary western capitalism.

Panel T095
Sport, Technoscience, Medicine and Performance