Hegemonic masculinity : just another day at the gym?
Conley, Justin Skye
Master of Arts
Weight training Sex differences Psychological aspects
Bodybuilding Sex differences Psychological aspects
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This thesis is an examination of masculinity and gym culture in a regional Canadian community. Through ethnographic observation and in depth interviews I explore the ways in which masculinity is Hterally embodied in the gym through participation in weight lifting and interaction with peers. Drawing on research on masculinity, sociology of the body, and feminist and gender studies, I examine the social construction of hegemonic masculinity and the extent to which it influences men's desires to lift weights as well as how it permeates and shapes the gym environments in which this activity is carried out. In contrast to earHer social science work which focuses primarily on elite, urban bodybuilders, this study examines the experience of recreational weight lifters in two distinct gym settings, "hard core gyms" and "chromed-up health spas" (or health clubs). Comparisons and contrasts in the construction of masculinity in these two settings are drawn and data is compared with the experiences of elite bodybuilders described in the earlier studies. I argue that the experiences of recreational bodybuilders in a regional Canadian community are different than those of professional bodybuilders. What links these two different communities together is how hegemonic masculinity affects the men that work out. Hegemonic masculinity invades gyms in different ways and therefore affects the men in these gyms in subtly different ways. I have argued throughout this thesis that the works of Alan Klein (1993) and Samuel Fussell (1991) are useful and necessary, however, do not account for the range of experiences that men go through well at the gym.