What is it that makes the “fluidity” of gender so dense and resilient, as though, rather than fluid, it is cut into two glittering pieces of diamond? The seemingly democratic sporting spaces of gym and fitness venues, with no formal gender segregation as an organizing principle, are still grounds for cutting diamonds.
This study investigates the ways in which bodily movements are conditioned upon social norms regarding what bodies are supposed to be, how they should move and what they should look like, especially in terms of gender. By conducting participatory observations, interviews, and collective memory exercises, and aided by a theoretical lens of post-structuralism and phenomenology, one can recognize that something as mundane as going to the gym and workout is by no means as simple as to adhere to any training program or reiterating a trainer’s movements.
In this study, the body in training is illuminated as something both enabled and hindered within gendered power relations, that is, our physical movements carry a political dimension. These power relations are seen as socially constructed thresholds for movement, they give direction for, and simultaneously hinders, potential movements.
However, there are places where these gendered power relations are being challenged, for instance one gym, which statutes encourage its members and trainers to work for a norm critical and inclusive environment. How does this effect the thresholding of movements? What type of inclusiveness is enabled?
GRETA BLADH is affiliated with Umeå Centre for Gender Studies at Umeå University. Moving thresholds: Body narratives within the vicinity of gym and fitness culture is her doctoral dissertation.