how the France of 36,000 steeples became that of 4,500 fitness clubs

The advent of social networks has led to an increase in sexual competition, male and female, and has reinforced this craze for “muscu”, even if it means creating a new source of depression when it is synonymous with headlong rush, meaningless , towards performance. 243433775/Nadezhda – stock.adobe.com

TESTING LIBRARY – The quest for muscle is inseparable from our economic system, which makes contemporaries vulnerable and uncertain. Thus it would be intimately linked to capitalism and liberalism.

On this Monday in November, around 7:30 p.m., it was impossible to find a vacant machine in this sports hall on rue Capron, in the 18e district of Paris. Like every evening of the week, on leaving work, young executives from the capital as well as more precarious workers stormed the treadmills and other devices made available to members. This quest for suffering has become, for some, a routine. How to explain such enthusiasm? The book by Guillaume Vallet, sociologist specializing in the history of economic thought and the body, The muscle factorypublished by Éditions L’Échappée, offers some answers.

On the surface, the equation seems simple. With the increase in the share of tertiary employment to the detriment of manual professions, work has become sedentary; daily physical activity has shrunk to a trickle, limited to trips from the office chair to the coffee machine. For…

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