Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Like many industries in contemporary society, the fitness sector is heavily gendered, andthus needs to be examined as a sector that both creates and reinforces gendered bodies. Building on previous single-method studies, I utilized a multi-methods approach of ethnography and interviews to analyze organizational and individual experiences with gender and fitness. Using West and Zimmerman’s concept of “doing gender,” I analyzed fitness organizations as a setting where gender and inequality are actively reproduced. By analyzing three fitness organizations with different gendered audiences (a barre studio, a CrossFit gym, and a personal training facility) I looked at how gender and fitness were understood in organizations historically associated with femininity or masculinity. At a time when feminist and body positivity movements continue to challenge the gendered body and the binary, this study analyzed whether the fitness industry continues to reflect binary gender relations and societal body ideals. I found that different fitness facilities, because of their gendered audiences, developed distinct cultures that sent disparate messages about gender, fitness, and health to their clients. Thus, fitness facilities continue to act as sites where we do gender, albeit in different ways depending on the type of exercise being done.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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