Still moving: an auto-ethnographic account of studio cycling

10:30, Thursday 6 May 2021 (30 minutes)
Break    11:00 AM to 11:30 AM (30 minutes)
Nina Morris,University of Edinburgh, UK

This paper explores the embodied experience of studio cycling, or ‘spinning’, an indoor exercise class on stationary bicycles during which participants alter the pace and intensity of their movement by adjusting flywheel resistance in both seated and standing positions usually in time to music. Taking an auto-ethnographic approach the paper connects with several long-standing and more recent debates in human geography and sensory studies, namely, mobility and stillness, kinaesthesia and kinaesthetic empathy, sound and sense of self, the relationship between the mind and body, and bodily boundaries and porosity, with a particular focus on sweat. Gordon Waitt (2014: 667) has argued, for example, that sweat “occupies an intimate place in our lives” and that it is an integral part of “the tensions and possibilities of the spatiality of subjectivity”, however, it has received minimal scholarly attention (within geography at any rate). In the West sweat has long been associated with discomfort, dirt, uncleanliness, or guilt, it is something to be avoided (increasingly by surgical intervention) or hidden (through preventative measures such as deodorant); in contrast, this paper will valorise and celebrate sweat using it as a mean through which to discuss the embodied sensory, experience of cycling whilst going nowhere.

University of Edinburgh
Senior Lecturer in Human Geography