Since the 1970s, fitness has developed as a cultural field — a network of producers, consumers, products and practices that focuses on the exercising body. This article considers the textual aspect of the US fitness field, drawing from a content analysis of several US exercise manuals from the late 1970s to late 1990s. The content of exercise manuals sheds light on the broader tastes and attitudes of fitness consumers, who are chiefly middle and new middle class men and women. In particular, the article addresses three recurrent themes or ‘lessons’ regarding the fitness consumer and his or her attitude towards the body: as an object of consumption, as a source of calculable rewards and as a motivational problem
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