Capital building through gym work

Bob Stewart, Aaron Smith, Brian Moroney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


This research employed Pierre Bourdieu's model of capital accumulation to frame the benefits conferred by gym use. Thirteen participants from four gyms in Melbourne, Australia, were purposefully selected for in-depth interviews, where detailed case histories were solicited, and data were analysed using a narrative coding model. Results indicated that the two most highly valued forms of capital were bodily capital and psychological capital. All 13 participants cited gym work as the means by which they built a better looking and better functioning body. They also advised that gym work had strengthened their self-esteem and psychological resilience, which, in turn, enabled them to present themselves more confidently in their various social roles outside the gym. In contrast, these 13 gym users accrued low levels of cultural and symbolic capital through their activities, and contrary to previous studies, also secured little social capital from gym work.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)542-560
Number of pages19
JournalLeisure Studies
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013
Externally publishedYes


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