Home Institution

Carleton College

Publication Date

Fall 2015

Program Name

South Africa: Community Health and Social Policy


This study explored attitudes towards exercise within a workout group in Cato Manor, Durban. Taking an autoethnographic approach, I have interwoven narratives of group members with my own experiences, both as a participant in the workout group and as a long-distance runner. Using focus groups, in-depth one-on-one interviews, and direct observations, as well as running as a method of introspection, I aimed to examine both individual and collective perceptions of and motivations for exercise. All but one of the workout group members I spoke with were women, reflecting the makeup of the group while I was there. My findings indicate that the workout group has had a positive impact on participants’ attitudes toward exercising. While weight concerns were identified by the majority of participants as the initial motivator to join the group, the welcoming, fun group environment kept them coming back. Moreover, participants identified the group itself as a powerful source of motivation and social support. Such findings carry important implications for understanding motives for behavior change specific to a consistent exercise routine within the Cato Manor community, and were utilized within the scope of this project in the participatory development of an informational poster.


Community-Based Research | Family, Life Course, and Society


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