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Deconstructing the Fitness-Industrial Complex: How to Resist, Disrupt, and Reclaim What It Means to Be Fit in American Culture (Paperback)
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Perspectives from QTBIPOC, fat, and disabled trainers, bodyworkers, and coaches on reimagining fitness for all bodies.
For readers of Belly of the Beast, Care Work, and The Body is Not an Apology
Fit is subjective. Who our society designates as fit--and who gets to be fit in our society--is predefined by the coaches, gyms, and systems at large that uphold and reproduce the Fitness Industrial Complex for their own structural and material gain.
The Fitness Industrial Complex uplifts some bodies while denigrating others. Bodies that are Black, Brown, queer, trans, poor, fat, and disabled--bodies that don't conform, that resist and disrupt--are excluded from being "fit." Through the stories and experiences of activist trainers, coaches, and bodyworkers of diverse identities and experiences, this anthology interrogates:
- The ideas and beliefs we’ve internalized about health, fitness, and our own and others’ bodies
- How to deconstruct and re-envision fitness as a practice for all bodies
- The fitness industry’s role in upholding and reinforcing oppression
- Exclusivity, unsafety, and harm in mainstream fitness spaces
- How to empower ourselves and our communities to push back against the FIC
Speaking directly to sick, queer, trans, disabled, and BIPOC readers, Deconstructing the Fitness Industrial Complex is part urgent inquiry, part radical deconstruction, and part call to action: to build spaces that welcome and work for all; to reclaim movement as a vital and liberatory practice; and to embody a model of joy and community care outside the mainstream fitness culture.
About the Author
JUSTICE ROE WILLIAMS (he/him) is a Certified Personal Trainer; founder of The Queer Gym Pop Up and BodyImage4Justice; ED of Fitness4AllBodies; and a trans, body-positive activist who works with people of all backgrounds to address and dismantle toxic masculinity. He's been featured in Refinery29, Good Housekeeping, NPR, Pink News, and more.
ROC ROCHON (they/them) is a trans masculine educator and doctoral student in the Department of Sport Management at FSU focusing on physical culture and the active body. They founded Rooted Resistance and served as the Director of Educational Leadership for GO! Athletes.
LAWRENCE KOVAL (they/he) is a movement instructor, writer, and analyst. His work is greatly informed through the lens of his own identity and experience: white, nonbinary, trans masculine, autistic, ADHD, and more.
"... I think many of us so-called ‘straight folks’ take for granted a fitness culture with safe spaces for us to be who we are and who we want to be. Deconstructing the Fitness Industrial Complex is a necessary and powerful wake-up for us all about how even the workout world can be a place of oppression, hate, invisibility, and isolation. Like Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States and the greatest writings of bell hooks, this book centers those often left at the margins—including sick, queer, trans, disabled, and BIPOC—in a way that humanizes, while also challenging notions of health and wellness that do not include all people, no matter their identities. Read it because it is the right and human thing to do. Read it and remember that until all bodies are free, no bodies are free."
—Kevin Powell, poet, journalist, civil and human rights activist
"A much-needed commentary, from a diverse array of thought leaders in fitness and beyond, on the need to decolonize the harmful fitness-industrial complex. Dismantling oppressive narratives around fat shaming, toxic diet culture, homophobia, transphobia, and racism are pivotal to creating fitness spaces that are equitable, inclusive, and accessible to all. I highly recommend this vital book that will help you on your journey towards unlearning, relearning, and becoming a co-conspirator to change in your community and beyond."
—Anusha Wijeyakumar, author, speaker, wellness consultant at Hoag Hospital, and adjunct professor at San Diego State University
"If you are looking to access the history, present day, and future of where we’re headed to reclaim our bodies—in movement and practice without an able-bodied, European, cisgendered lens—this book is for you! Not only do the authors provide readers with hardcore facts about the state of what we know as fitness, they also provide the empathy and support needed to create a bridge for those seeking a change in how they see their own bodies and movement in a society that often discards their abilities. This book is such an eye opening piece of work needed in the field!"
—Joy Arlene Renee Cox, Ph.D, author of Fat Girls in Black Bodies
"A must read for all humans, especially those who've struggled with fitness or felt like they didn't belong. Breaking free from harsh and binary ways of thinking, this book dives into the complex and intersectional ways that the fitness industry impacts our lives so we can develop a more pleasurable, empowered, and embodied relationship with movement."
—Alexis Conason, PsyD, CEDS, psychologist, certified eating disorder specialist, and author of The Diet-Free Revolution
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