Why do you even lift: The reasons for men attempting to gain muscular physiques through working out in gyms in the North East of England

Lewis Hill
Northumbria University


This research was conducted from August 2012 to February 2013 in order to discover the reasons why men try to gain muscle, and why different groups use gym space in differing ways. It was largely informed by focus groups, interviews and observations, as well as through participants’ self-reports which mapped their use of space within gyms. The research questions are as follows. The first was, “how do men view masculinity and do they attempt to gain muscle in order to acquire a masculine identity?” The second was, “do men attempt to gain muscle for functional or aesthetic reasons?” The third was, “to what extent are men influenced by the media or role models in wanting to gain muscle?” The final research question was, “how do men interact with the space at the gym?” Through analysis, the author discovered that most of the data produced was socially constructed, with participants’ opinions reflecting what the literature described as the views from society; for example, their views on masculinity mirrored what the literature claimed was Western society’s view on masculinity. Men gained muscle due to their perception of related rewards – a perception that is reinforced by media focus on sport and sport star role models. Use of space in gyms appeared to be determined by dominant societal views on those spaces. For example, men avoided the cardiovascular equipment due to its association with femininity in popular perception.

Author profile

The author is a Northumbria University graduate with a 2:1 degree in BA Geography. For his dissertation (for which he received a 1:1), he studied the geography of the body due to his interest in the subject, gym culture, and the reasons why he and his friends regularly attended the gym. He chose to conduct research into the issue, knowing that through his own involvement in the culture he already had potential participants available. 

Project supervisor: Cath White

Correspondence address: lewis617@hotmail.co.uk


masculinity, gym, muscle, space mapping, media, role models, geographies of the body

Why do you even lift: The reasons for men attempting to gain muscular physiques through working out in gyms in the North East of England by Lewis Hill is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Creative Commons Attribution

Based on a work at geoverse.brookes.ac.uk.

Original Papers - Geoverse
ISSN 1758-3411
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