The ‘Wellness Craze’: Six Stories About Fitness

I have this pair of running shoes that I bought three years ago, and the last time I wore them was in the shoe store. I had the best of intentions. My then-boyfriend encouraged me to buy them. I was always complaining about how out-of-shape I felt, which was code for how unsatisfied I was with my looks.

These days, I’m cooler with how I look, trying to navigate body-positive feminism and genuine self-care. One of my New Year’s resolutions is to put those running shoes on, even if it’s just for a walk around the park.

Maybe it’s because I’m so enamored with Netflix binges and junk food and sleeping in, but I’d rather read about exercising than exercise myself. Here are several of my favorite stories about fitness magazines, FitBit, yoga and athleisure.

1. “Why Can’t Fitness Magazines Cash in on the Wellness Craze?” (Erika Adams, Racked, January 2016)

“Wellness” is so hot right now. It sounds holistic, body positive, more all-encompassing than plain old “fitness”—so why are magazines geared towards the health-obsessed floundering? 

2. “Gap’s Big Bet on Athleta and the New Way American Women Dress.” (Sapna Maheshwari, BuzzFeed News, April 2015)

Yoga pants to work, yoga pants to dinner, yoga pants to the club. Athletic-leisure (“athleisure,” for you unenlightened, yoga-hating slackers) apparel is the newest frontier in fashion. It’s a statement—I work out! I’ve got my shit together!—and a million-dollar industry.

3. “Debunking the Myths About Yoga.” (Meredith Graves, Paper Magazine, January 2016)

I’ve taken several ill-fated yoga and Pilates classes, vowing never to return. My coordination and flexibility are non-existant. But this article made me believe I could give yoga a second chance. Meredith Graves, author and leader of the acclaimed punk band Perfect Pussy, sat down (in which pose, I do not know) with fellow punk and yoga instructor Jesse Amesmith, whose practice emphasizes self-love and accessibility.

4. “Fitted.” (Moira Weigel, The New Inquiry, July 2015)

Like confession and therapy, activity trackers promise to improve us by confronting us with who we are when we are not paying attention. The difference is that they produce clarity constantly, in real time. And they tell us exactly what to do … It makes it possible to see every problem as one we can tackle through activity. FitBit says: If you want to deserve love, do something. “Something” means become more and more fit.

5. “The Rise of Beefcake Yoga.”  (Alex French, New York Times, August 2014)

When you think “committed yoga practitioner,” do you picture a) an 80-year-old man; b) a former substance abuser; or c) a retired WWE wrestler? The answer: d) All of the above.

6. “Training, Tanning and Branding with the Bikini Bodybuilding Stars of Instagram.” (Amanda Shapiro, BuzzFeed, January 2015)

Part intense sport, part beauty pageant, is “bikini fitness” thinspiration repackaged or an Instagram-based fitness revolution?