I don’t know about you, but when the world reopens, I’ll be more excited to get back to the gym or a bootcamp class than I am to return to dinner parties. Perhaps I am not alone. We are living in the ‘Age of Fitness’, after all, or so author Jürgen Martschukat argues in his new book, The Age of Fitness (Polity, 2021). Indeed, despite many of our fitness routines being disrupted over the past 12 months due to global lockdowns, the fitness industry has reached a record valuation exceeding $100bn. Whether we’re squeezing in an online yoga class at lunchtime or a late-night, at-home workout session, we live in a society that is increasingly fixated on fitness. But with mounting pressure to not only stay fit but sculpt a toned, fit-looking body too, is our fixation with fitness starting to become unhealthy?
The fitness boom
Over the past two decades, the fitness industry has exploded. According to Alex Hawkins, senior foresight editor at strategic foresight consultancy The Future Laboratory, “the growth of gym culture and fitness franchises have rapidly accelerated largely because consumers are increasingly health-conscious, but also because the sector has become heavily commoditised as a lifestyle pillar.”