The Lived Experience of CrossFit as a Context for the Development of Women's Body Image and Appearance Management Practices

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2017-01-01
Authors
Podmore, Miranda
Ogle, Jennifer
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Abstract

CrossFit is a fitness regimen that combines aerobic exercise, gymnastics, and weight training. Of interest was how women's participation in CrossFit gives rise to varied appearance- and body-related feelings and behaviors, bodily aspirations, and experiences relative to cultural norms of hegemonic femininity. Data were collected via in-depth interviews with 16 women who participate in CrossFit and were analyzed using constant comparison. Emergent themes included: experiences of CrossFit box culture, ideals aspired to, bodily appraisals, appetites/diets, appearance management, identity, and perceived influence of CrossFit. Seemingly, for some women, CrossFit participation may support experiences of empowerment, including a disposition to transgress hegemonic norms of femininity in terms of the ideals to which they aspire, how they eat, their identities, their views on health and fitness, and their perceptions of gender. For others, however, participation in CrossFit may be experienced as constraining – underscoring traditional gender norm expectations – or may produce feelings of ambivalence.

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