This paper was published as Marketing Sport and Physical Activity: A Twenty-First Century Priority / Fu, Frank and Robertson, Robert (Eds.), pp. 1-13. Proceedings of the International Conference on Sports Marketing. Hong Kong Baptist University, October 2006.The article explores the ambivalent relationship between the commercial fitness industry and question of health. While commercial fitness has drawn support and legitimacy from the health field, it is poorly equipped to address population health issues. The article draws from research on the US, where the commercialization and individualization of physical culture and leisure are most marked; however, these are global issues, just as obesity and inactivity are global problems. Using the example of commercial exercise manuals, the article outlines the problematic construction of fitness as an individualized consumer leisure activity, which obscures the social roots of health problems and further entrenches class-based stratification of health and health risks
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