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Hidden in plain sight: the spatial and industrial logics of home fitness technologies

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journal contribution
posted on 15.09.2021, 03:40 by Peter Arne Johnson

Amid technological convergence and the proliferation of new digital distribution methods, at-home fitness devices and fitness media have entered the cultural mainstream. However, fitness media companies like Peloton, Mirror, and Tonal, as quasi-television producers and distributors, have yet to be contextualized within critical media and cultural studies. Leveraging press coverage, interface and hardware analysis, and marketing paratexts, this paper turns to television’s cultural and economic history to consider the continuities and changes concerning visual media’s place within the domestic sphere and the economic conditions that have led fitness companies to venture into media production. Ultimately, this research concludes that home fitness technologies and their associated marketing work through long-held cultural anxieties regarding surveillance and technology with the home. This paper also updates critical theory to argue that these new media devices have oriented users as information-age consumers of digital products and have obfuscated data surveillance by anthropomorphizing digital spaces and making such products seem immaterial and innocuous.