Fitness, Exercise and Physical Culture

All Proposals & Abstracts Must Be Submitted Through The PCA Conference Submission page
Please submit a proposal to only one area at a time. Exceptions and Rules.


The fitness, exercise, and physical culture area welcomes papers, presentations, panels involving scholarly inquiry on physical fitness and popular culture. Fitness is variously defined as a pursuit and a product (e.g. a person can engage in fitness activities to achieve a level of physical fitness.) A minimum level of fitness is considered a health necessity. Yet the spectrum of fitness embraces wellness, successful negotiation of activities of daily living and athletic prowess. While fitness is part of culture, there is an “anti-fitness” presence also–particularly in popular culture.

This interdisciplinary area explores exercise and fitness in media, film, literature, advertising, television, comic books, magazines, the internet, and social media. Critical inquiry, archival and historical research, visual analysis, and ethnographic research, expressions of fitness in narrative, poetry, and creative writing are welcome. Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Fitness and wellness
    • Exercise trends and fitness crazes
    • Depictions of fit (or unfit) bodies
    • Objectification of athletes and athletic prowess
    • Exploration of physical un-ability
    • Cultural interpretations
    • Influences of technology
    • Gender perceptions and pursuits
    • Fitness as a societal expectation
    • Physical self-perception
    • Consumerism and commodification
    • Gyms, health club, or spa culture
    • The role and impact of politics

Submissions are accepted through the PCA/ACA online application system. Please submit a 250-word abstract, a 75-100 word biographical statement.

Virginia S. Cowen, PhD
School of Health Professions, Rutgers University
Newark, NJ