Synopses & Reviews
Beer, ice cream, and socializing; thighs, abs, and pecsandmdash;Japanese fitness clubs combine entertainment and exercise, reflecting the Japanese concept of fitness as encompassing a zest for life as well as physical health. Through an engaging account of these clubs, Working Out in Japan
reveals how beauty, bodies, health, and leisure are understood and experienced in Japan today. An aerobics instructor in two of Tokyoandrsquo;s most popular fitness club chains from 1995 to 1997, Laura Spielvogel captures the diverse voices of club members, workers, and managers; women and men; young and old.
and#9;Fitness clubs have proliferated in Japanese cities over the past decade. Yet, despite the pervasive influence of a beauty industry that values thinness above all else, they have met with only mixed success . Exploring this paradox, Spielvogel focuses on the tensions and contradictions within the world of Japanese fitness clubs and on the significance of differences between Japanese and North American philosophies of mind and body. Working Out in Japan explores the ways spaces and bodies are organized and regulated within the clubs, the frustrations of female instructors who face various gender inequities, and the difficult demands that the ideal of slimness places on Japanese women. Spielvogelandrsquo;s vivid investigation illuminates not only the fitness clubs themselves, but also broader cultural developments including the growth of the service industry and the changing character of work and leisure in Japan.
andrdquo;Laura Spielvogel views notions of the body and gender in contemporary Japanese popular culture from an interesting new angle. This highly original workand#160;offers an important complement toand#160;the Western-dominated literature on the body, sports, and fitness by describing the distinctly Japanese body culture that is a product of both regional traditions and transnational influences.andrdquo;andmdash;Susan Brownell, author of Training the Body for China: Sports in the Moral Order of the People's Republic
andldquo;Working Out in Japan is a theoretically sophisticated analysis informed by wide reading and well-grounded in the authorandrsquo;s extensive experience as a fitness instructor.andrdquo;andmdash;Allen Guttmann, coauthor of Japanese Sports: A History
Includes bibliographical references (p. -241) and index.
An ethnography of fitness clubs, aerobics, body image, and diet for women in contemporary Japan.
About the Author
Laura Spielvogel is Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Western Michigan University.