Physique Attitudes and Self-Presentational Concerns: Exploratory Interviews with Female Group Aerobic Exercisers and Instructors Page: 197
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Physique Attitudes and Self-Presentational Concerns
exercisers (Frederick & Shaw, 1995; Loland, 2000;
Maguire & Mansfield, 1998; Markula, 1995).
For the instructors in our study, body aware-
ness while teaching was not in the forefront of their
thoughts. Only two of the five instructors said that
they felt pressure to "look good." Further, all five in-
structors expressed that they want to create a healthy
exercise environment for their students and that they
do so by focusing on improved health and strength
rather than on weight loss. In addition, the instruc-
tors reported that, although they see themselves as
role models, they want their students to recognize
that each person has her own body type. This is en-
couraging news for those concerned about issues of
health and fitness, and it illustrates how instructors
might influence the psychosocial atmosphere of aer-
obics classes in positive ways (Collins, 2002). Addi-
tional research is needed to understand more fully
the strategies fitness leaders use and their effective-
ness in creating positive, healthy, and empowering
In interpreting the results and coming to con-
clusions based on the findings of this exploratory
study, it is important to recognize that there were
several limitations. One limitation of the present
study was the small, homogeneous sample. All of the
participants were White college students, which lim-
its the transferability of the results. We were unable
to determine the extent to which the experiences of
the women in our study are similar to or different
from the experiences of Women of Color and women
outside of the university setting. For example, the
environment in which women outside of the univer-
sity setting experience aerobics classes may be differ-
ent from other exercise centers in terms of mirrors,
posters, and physical design of the space. A second
limitation of the study was the reliance on partici-
pants' memories and reflections on their experiences.
It is possible that participants did not accurately re-
port their experiences and attitudes; however, steps
were taken to promote honest reporting of their ex-
periences. For example, participants were assured
that their responses would remain anonymous, and
they were informed that they could withdraw from
the interview at anytime without penalty of any
This exploratory study has highlighted several
important issues. First, women involved in group aer-
obics negotiate a myriad of body experiences. Addi-
tional research is needed to determine how women
make sense of these experiences and, in particu-
lar, the role that body control beliefs play. Second,
there is a need to understand effective strategies for
creating body-friendly fitness environments, environ-
ments where people of all shapes and sizes can feel
good about being active and taking care of their bod-
ies (Haravon, 1995). Studying instructor behaviors
and the physical environment of fitness environments
may be good places to start. As the instructors in
the present study suggested, they have the desire to
create positive body environments for their exercis-
ers, therefore additional research is needed to iden-
tify and implement effective strategies toward that
Main Questions in Interview Guide
General body image/satisfaction
* How do you currently feel about your body
shape or physique?
* How would you describe your ideal body
shape or physique?
* How would you compare yourself to that
Group aerobic classes and body image/
* How do you think your participation in group
aerobic classes has influenced how you feel
about your body?
* When you are doing group aerobics, how do
you feel about your body shape or physique?
* Does how you feel about your body/shape
during aerobics impact your enjoyment and
* If you could design the perfect group aerobic
class what would it be like?
* Do you think group aerobics instructors' body
shapes should serve as a role model? Why or
* What should group aerobics instructors look
like (in terms of body shape and physique)?
Blaine, B., & Williams, Z. (2004). Belief in the controllability
of weight and attributions to prejudice among heavyweight
women. Sex Roles, 51, 79-84.
Bordo, S. (1993). Unbearable weight: Feminism, Western culture,
and the body. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
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Greenleaf, Christy; McGreer, Rosemary & Parham, Heather. Physique Attitudes and Self-Presentational Concerns: Exploratory Interviews with Female Group Aerobic Exercisers and Instructors, article, February 2006; [New York, New York]. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc31089/m1/9/: accessed July 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT College of Education.