Working Out in “Sunlight Happiness Gym”
Fitness, Well-Being, and Temporal Rhythms in the Contemporary Tibetan City
What might it mean to strive for well-being and a viable life in Lhasa, the capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR)? What are the temporal rhythms of urban life for government-employed Tibetan women in their mid-twenties? This article engages with these questions by foregrounding seemingly mundane activities related to fitness and sport as they are experienced by Yangkyi and Tselha, two highly educated government workers in their mid-20s. It draws on seven months of ethnographic research, followed up by communication on social media, to examine the everyday routines and concerns of the two women, exploring how “Sunlight Happiness Gym,” a high-end fitness studio catering to the city’s growing middle classes, emerged as significant in their efforts to be well. The article shows how working out created its own temporal rhythms for Yangkyi and Tselha and opened up potentials for self-making that were more difficult to create in other domains of their lives. By demonstrating that, for Yangkyi and Tselha, ideas and practices of well-being, self-care, and fitness get intertwined through going to the gym, I argue that working out plays an important part in their attempts to create joy, meaningful relationships, and a viable life in an environment characterized by often overwhelming structural conditions.
Copyright (c) 2023 Anne Kukuczka
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