Gym Olympia

project: submitted by Pablo Encias (ESP) and Kyra Michel (CH), with contributions by the performers of GYM OLYMPIA *****

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“After the passage of freedom that the 70s meant, in the 80s the cult of a healthy body began to develop. Health and perfection star in the ideals of a time when the gym becomes a temple at your service. The aggressiveness of hegemonic discourses arises in response to the countercultural and „debauchery” movements of the previous decades. AIDS is the last straw in this change in morality to establish, by virtue of health, a rigid discipline of the body.”

Luis DE LA CRUZ. Contra el running. Corriendo hasta morir en la ciudad postindustrial. Jaén 2016. p. 51

Self-care is a current practice – a trend, a movement and an attitude – that has enjoyed a growing hype during the last years. Self-care is a vague and broad concept in many aspects, except that it is inherently selfish and celebrated exactly for that. It is an encouragement towards the individualization of mental and physical health, related to both therapy and prophylaxis, and takes place during leisure time. Self-care does not replace our economic and social productivity, more so, it is a tool to improve it and requires the existence of this leisure time in order to even be performed. It can be directed at healing from distinct wounds or dissatisfactions, but it is often used as a treatment for the way our daily lives leave us – drained, washed out, emotionally scattered. Guides and advice on how to achieve self-care flourish on all digital platforms. Each and every one of us is seeking for a different type of treatment for our lives, therefore self-care can take over a large variety of forms. Some of them include physical exercise as a strategy of optimization in mental and bodily functions.

As this type of care is an activity performed to a large account by an individual alone, it becomes a commonly shared subject on digital platforms. We celebrate our individuality and our resilience to daily stress by showing it online – or sharing it, as it is translated in the digital lingo.
As Manuel Delgado narrates in an article on account of the Barcelona Olympics, “the athlete’s body is a radically domesticated body, in which every millimeter of skin, each muscle, each joint, has been subscribed to the principles of harmony and rational order ”. Self-esteem begins to fluctuate in relation to comparison with others. This competitiveness reaches a point where health and personal achievements are valued, being in this sense representative, the publications of sports exploits on social networks.

What do we perform when we work out? What does it look like when real bodies carry out digitally formatted routines, and how does it translate in the context of domestic space?

Gym Olympia is the place where this creativity is openly shared. During the unfolding of the global health crisis caused by the pandemic, we provide a platform for people to share their home workout videos in order to follow daily international restrictions regarding sports. We encourage a debate on the physical confrontation of domestic spaces and their reinterpretation.

“GYM OLYMPIA ***** is not one specific gym but all of them. It is an intermediate safe space amid the houses of your friends and yours. A projected imaginary architecture beyond you and your isolated home. It is a way to deconstruct your living room and your kitchen by rethinking it as something different.”

Sports currently operate under normative structures as architecture also does. Establishing Gym Olympia as a laboratory of fictions is an exercise to understand these mechanisms that instrumentalize human behavior in order to trace a common goal: the construction of politically controlled bodies and subjects.

Gym Olympia is an extended plug-in of an aseptic healing capsule connected to the institution of the hospital. During the actual pandemic context, public healthcare exceeded the boundaries of its specifically erected heterotopias, finally occupying local gyms and sports centers in order to host the crowds, whereas the issue of individual health has taken over your home. HEAL YOURSELF, DISINFECT YOUR BODY.

The following workouts have been produced by members of Gym Olympia. They provide instructions and a framework that can be followed or broken by anyone, anywhere. They share their self-care routines leaving space for interpretation and action.