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‘McDonaldizing’ Aerobics: Learning, Training and Productive Systems in Group Fitness Instruction. Alan Felstead. http://learningaswork.cf.ac.uk. Structure of Talk. Summary of the Argument Health and Fitness Sector Methods Results. The ‘Good’ Face of ‘Training’.

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‘McDonaldizing’ Aerobics:

Learning, Training and Productive Systems

in Group Fitness Instruction

Alan Felstead

http://learningaswork.cf.ac.uk


Structure of Talk

  • Summary of the Argument

  • Health and Fitness Sector

  • Methods

  • Results


The ‘Good’ Face of ‘Training’

  • Policy assumption: training & skills are the

  • key levers to economic success

  • Training teaches new skills & a thirst for

  • learning

  • Training enhances labour mobility & pay

  • Training raises business performance


The Evidence Base

  • The ‘good’ face is based on survey evidence

  • (training defined by formal, structured

  • events, often courses)

  • What is learnt, by whom & why difficult

  • to capture

  • Events recorded largely context-free (some

  • attempts but inevitably limited to workplace)

  • Difficult to situate training in a ‘productive

  • system’ linking stages in the process


Argument & Substantive Finding

  • A fuller understanding of the role &

  • function of training requires a case study

  • approach which examines relations

  • Training can stifle and prevent learning

  • Sources of knowledge may be off-limits

  • & out of reach (with script writers upstream

  • in the ‘productive system’ & away from the

  • point of delivery)


Cardiovascular (CV)

Rowers

Treadmills

Elliptical

Cross Trainers

Bikes


Single Resistance Machines

Bicep extensions

Seated leg curls


Free Weights

Bicep/tricep extensions

Barbells

Bench press

Dumbbells


Methods

  • Stakeholder interviews (3)

  • Operator-level interviews (11)

  • Club-level management interviews (9)

  • Observation of conventions – 2 day event

  • Participant observation in 2 day event for

  • ETM instructors

  • Follow-up interviews & observations with

  • fellow trainees

  • 15 ETM interviews – most at evenings &

  • weekends


Attendance gives 4

CPD points


Two Productive Systems

  • Freestyle (DIY). Began with Step in late

  • 1980s with platforms being manufactured

  • & sold for studio use, but little centralised

  • instruction

  • 2. Pre-choreography. Launched in NZ in 1990,

  • entered UK in 1997 with 7 programmes, now

  • in a fifth of UK venues – BTS is the dominant

  • user of this system of delivery


BodyAttack

(floor aerobics)

BodyBalance

(mind & body

conditioning)

BodyCombat

(boxing & karate)

RPM

(indoor cycling)

BodyJam

(dance)

BodyPump

(resistance

training)

BodyStep

(step aerobics)


June 1990

December 1991

March 1993

March 1997

March 1998

September 1998

Number of Operational Years

June 1999



Features of BTS

  • Pre-packed product delivered by instructors

  • Clubs licensed for 12 months to put BTS on

  • timetable – fee paid

  • Instructors need club-affiliation to access

  • initial training + NVQ 2

  • Initial training (2-3 days) + assessment

  • CPD (attendance at 3 out of 4 QWs when

  • new release issued)

  • Elements of ‘licence to practise’ but not

  • allowed to freely roam


Contrasting Labour Process Regimes

  • Freestyle (instructor centre stage):

  • - analysing & selecting music

  • - choreographing the moves

  • - presenting their image

2. Pre-choreography (instructor mimics another):

- sounds selected & remixed

- choreographers fit movement to music

- image makers promote clothes selection &

use of dialogue


Beats per minute

absent

Music phrasing – 32 count blocks

Shorthand for moves

Instructor dialogue

Music segments


Trainees are Drilled to Conform

  • Everything pre-packaged & easy

  • Specialised knowledge & decision-rules

  • in-built into artefacts (DVDs, notes, QWs)

  • Repetitive viewing of DVD

  • Compulsory attendance at QWs

  • Mimicking of Master Trainers encouraged –

  • clothing, language & even bodies!


Conclusion

  • Music mapping, choreography &

  • inventiveness are not ‘must have’ skills in a

  • pre-choreographed world

  • Standardization requires follow the scripts

  • written by others!

  • This formulaic solution cheapens labour &

  • makes high labour turnover & absenteeism

  • easier to cope with

  • Contrary to popular belief training can

  • deaden rather than awaken individual

  • creativity



Contact Details:

[email protected]

http://learningaswork.cf.ac.uk


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