Fit and Flexible: The Fitness Industry, Personal Trainers and Emotional Service Labor

Jennifer Smith Maguire
2001 Sociology of Sport Journal  
The contemporary United States fitness industry, in conjunction with the medical endorsement of exercise and the marketing of lifestyle consumption, has made possible the emergence and rapid growth of health and fitness services. This paper brings together the sociological fields of work, consumption, and physical culture, suggesting how the structure and organization of personal training impacts upon how fitness is sold. Drawing from interviews with personal trainers, the occupation is
more » ... cupation is discussed as a combination of frontline service work, emotional labor, and flexible work strategies, resulting in a variety of job roles: the representation of the fitness club, the brokering of clients' consumer relationships with the fitness industry, the motivation of clients through service relationships, and the entrepreneurial cultivation of a client base and semi-professional authority. Aux États-Unis, l'industrie contemporaine de la condition physique a profité de l'appui médical à l'exercice et du marketing de la consommation reliée au style de vie pour permettre l'émergence et la croissance rapide de services dans le domaine de la santé et de la condition physique. Cet article regroupe les champs sociologiques du travail, de la consommation et de la culture physique pour suggérer comment la structure et l'organisation de l'entraînement personnalisé influence la façon dont la condition physique est vendue. A partir d'entrevues avec des entraîneurs personnels, leur occupation est discutée en tant que combinaison de travail de service aux clients, de travail émotionnel et de stratégies de travail flexibles. Cette occupation résulte en une variété de rôles: la représentation du centre de conditionnement physique, le courtage des relations entre le client-consommateur et l'industrie de la condition physique, la motivation des clients par le biais des relations de service et la culture d'une clientèle ainsi que d'une autorité semi-professionnelle. There is perhaps no cultural theme more emblematic of our current dual obsessions with health and appearance than that of fitness. While its modern roots extend back to the physical culture and health reforms of the 19th century, fitness as we know it today is far and away a commercial venture. Even when the ostensible goal is health promotion rather than image improvement, fitness tends to take place in and through the consumer marketplace. Since the early 1970s, the pursuit of fitness has developed into a multi-billion dollar industry in the United States, spanning the health food, exercise equipment, instructional video, and health club industries. This paper examines the occupation of personal training, an innovation of the fitness industry of the past 10 years. Paid to design and facilitate individual
doi:10.1123/ssj.18.4.379 fatcat:swk2g24cwza75ee4pkihxjjvkm