Our Speakers

Mr. Lakshyayog

Jawaharlal Nehru University, India

About the speaker

Mr. Lakshyayog is currently a doctoral candidate in Geography at Jawaharlal Nehru University, India. His doctoral project explores the production of a fit city by examining the role of initiatives such as open gyms and fitness campaigns in the city of Delhi. He has been awarded the Senior Research Fellowship and Junior Research Fellowship for his doctoral research by the Government of India.

With professional research experience of over 5 years in the areas of urban social justice, education for sustainable development and youth advocacy, he has worked with various organisations such as ActionAid, PRIA, IIT Madras and TERI. His areas of research include physical culture and fitness practices, geographies of fitness and physical activities, and urban politics in the Global South.

Presentation highlights

  • Why health and fitness have emerged as primary areas of concern in cities of the global south?
  • What are the ways in which health and fitness activities are promoted in the cities?
  • How do ‘citizens’ of Delhi make sense of their health and fitness by engaging in diverse health and fitness practices?

Paper Abstract

More than Health/Fitness: A Critical Geography of Fitness Practices in Delhi, India

The recent popularization of fitness and the ideals of a fit body coincides with the emergence of neo-liberal values pronounced particularly in cities across the world and that of the global south. The growing consciousness to- wards health and fitness in cities is driven by the dual logic of impending health concerns reflecting the sedentary lifestyle and expanding urban fitness industry catering to health-conscious individuals aiming to regulate and surveillance their health behaviors. Building on the neoliberal conceptions of healthism and active living, the paper intends to map the critical geography of fitness practices in the city of Delhi by engaging with diverse practices aimed at health and fitness performed in various spatial settings of the city. Drawing on multi-sited ethnography conducted in Delhi, the paper argues that spatializing the categories of health and fitness in the case of cities, particularly of the global south ruptures the unitary understanding of health and fitness as a medical category that is often mobilized in urban planning registers. The paper shows that ‘active citizens’ in Delhi construct themselves by self-regulating and self-suveillancing their behaviors as a result of more than health/fitness practices embedded in urban sociabilities of caste, class, and gender. The paper contributes to the growing body of scholarship within urban studies, engaging with physical cultural practices as the discursive production of health and fitness practices and the embedded body ideals are central to the planning and conception of healthy cities.

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