Embodying Industrial Knowledge: An Epistemological Approach to the Formation of Body Knowledge in the Fitness Industry

in Sociology of Sport Journal
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This paper has two objectives: 1) to develop a coherent epistemological approach to clarify the concept of body knowledge and 2) to analyze the role of body knowledge in business-driven fitness environments. The epistemological analysis is built on phenomenological and feminist discussions on embodiment to clarify the power mechanisms and agency behind the profit-making interests of the fitness industry. I introduce two conceptions of body knowledge—bodily knowledge and embodied knowledge—that are on opposite ends of the same continuum. My analysis suggests that there are several reasons why embodied knowledge is fostered while bodily knowledge remains marginal in the fitness industry. The paper concludes that the business-driven work environment equips group fitness instructors with performative skills but offers few opportunities to develop professional judgment agency and expertise.

Parviainen is with the Factulty of Social Science, University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland.

Address author correspondence to Jaana Parviainen at jaana.parviainen@uta.fi.
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