Saturday, May 11, 2013

Health/Fitness and Social Class

Another strong indicator of class is fitness and self image. I'm currently writing this post while watching a new program on ESPN2 called, "CrossFit Games" sponsored by Reebok. The premise of the show is to find the most fit individual in America. 

Whether its jogging, cycling, yoga, or lifting weights, exercise has become a popular American fad. Each of the competitors on "CrossFit Games" tells the camera on their cameos their names, hometown, and the gym or health club they exercise at or "belong to." This is the first indicator of class, as these clubs are high end and mostly allow access to those who are paying a monthly membership. This is something valued by the upper rungs of the socioeconomic ladder. Not only do the people who pay for these memberships have access to the pristine facilities offered (like East Bank Club of Chicago), but there is also an inherent sense of inclusion by "belonging" to a club. Belonging to a club or an elite group is definitely an indicator of high social class as it is an exclusive club, and will only take those who can afford the monthly premiums. I think this is especially true on the North Shore. I usually work out at "LA Fitness." LA Fitness is a gym that targets a different demographic as they only charge $20/month to join, compared to a health club like East Bank which is roughly $180/month. While observing the type of people at LAFitness, I've noticed differences from a higher end club yet the people in both places come to achieve the same goal: getting or staying fit. I've also heard, from some of my friends, more expensive health clubs also have a bar where the members can order healthy foods and drinks, which tend to also reflect social class. 

Health and dieting are also a notable aspect of social class. People who constantly work out to better themselves physically also take dieting to heart. This requires eating healthy food, often marked up in price. We talked about Whole Foods in class. These foods do tell stories to the shopper, explaining the entire process from cultivation to production. People who care about their dieting will look to every aspect of the food they are eating even if it is three times the price per pound. While people may think Whole Foods is too expensive, remember that they are catering specifically to a certain demographic. Whole Foods Co-Founder John Mackey says on a KQED Forum, "If people think we’re too expensive or the quality’s not very good or the services aren't good... they have plenty of alternatives in the marketplace We don’t make everybody happy. But who does? We do have a $12 billion business, so somebody likes us.” This again brings back the exclusivity, appealing to only those who are willing to pay for top-of-the-line produce. Please note some examples you see in your environment that are applicable to health/fitness and social class. 


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  3. Noah, Good job blogging here again this quarter. This is a thoughtful post. Regarding the fitness angle, I wondered also about the leisure time required to be the "fittest" person. The Whole Foods discussion feels a little tacked on...could be its own post.

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