Exercise for women is a heavily-laden social and embodied experience. While exercise promotion has become an increasingly visible part of health campaigns, obesity among women is rising, and studies indicate that women are generally less physically active than men. Women's (lack of) exercise, therefore, has become a public concern, and physiological and psychological research has attempted to develop more effective exercise programs aimed at women. Yet women have a complex relationship with embodiment and physical activity that is difficult for quantitative scientific approaches to explore. This book addresses this neglect by providing a much-needed feminist, qualitative social analysis of women and exercise. The contributors, drawn from across Europe and North America, investigate the ways women experience exercise within the context of the global fitness industry. All the authors take a specifically feminist perspective in their analysis of the fit, feminine body, exploring media images and the global branding of fitness products, the relationship between exercise and fat, the construction of physical activity within health discourse, and the lived experience of the exercising body. The collection explores the diversity of women's experiences of exercise in relation to age, ethnicity and body size. The book is essential for anyone interested in health promotion, sport and exercise or the social and cultural study of gender and embodiment.
Eileen Kennedy is Director of the Centre for Scientific and Cultural Research in Sport in the School of Human and Life Sciences at Roehampton University, London, UK. She has a background in Philosophy (BA, University of Essex) and Women's Studies (MA, University of Kent) and gained her PhD in Sociology of Sport from De Montfort University for her thesis, Gender in Televised Sport. Since then, her research and publications have focused on the intersections of nation, class and race in the discursive construction of masculinities and femininities in the sport and exercise media. Dr. Kennedy is interested in the significance of the body and the senses in the consumption of media sport, and has begun to focus on the mediation of sport through sporting spaces and digital sportscapes. She is co-author, with Laura Hills, of Sport, Media and Society (published by Berg). Pirkko Markula is a professor of socio-cultural studies of sport and physical activity at the University of Alberta, Canada. Her research interests include poststructuralist feminist analysis of dance, exercise and sport, ethnography, autoethnography and performance ethnography. She is the co-author, with Richard Pringle, of Foucault, Sport and Exercise: Power, Knowledge and Transforming the Self (Routledge, 2006), editor of Feminist Sport Studies: Sharing Joy, Sharing Pain (SUNY Press, 2005), co-editor, with Sarah Riley, Maree Burns, Hannah Frith and Sally Wiggins, of Critical Bodies: Representations, Identities and Practices of Weight and Body Management (Palgrave, 2007) and co-editor, with Jim Denison, of Moving Writing: Crafting Movement in Sport Research (Peter Lang, 2003).