Fitness centers in Dar first came up in the mid ‘80s. After Tanzanian long term socialist leader Julius Nyerere left the office, first signs of western consumerist culture started appearing: the first nightclubs and casinos in town created a demand for private security personnel. These bouncers and guards needed to have a strong physical appearance, which could be reached by working out. Young men without jobs and people working in poorly paid or unreliable job situations took the chance and started to built-up muscles to enter this new market. The first gym for example in Kigamboni was founded by a local fishermen with a family house, with sufficient space that they transformed into a gym. The first gym members started working as bouncers for the starting casinos.
Still today, gyms are places of trade: job opportunities, potential partners for enterprises or customers for other side-businesses can be found while pumping the weights, or rather in-between the sessions, while resting on the benches or just hanging out in the gym after workout. The repetitiveness of the physical work, leaves enough resources for social work: a good conversation or just being in the same room creates relations of trust. The conversion of the social capital to economic capital is a natural development in gym life.
The motivation of becoming a member is multi-faceted: although western role models are visually present on posters and magazine collages, the paradigms of western body-culture are not the driving force of gyms in Dar. The motivation to become a member lays in the community life, the potentials in professional, social and economic progression.
KUNSTrePUBLIK (Matthias Einhoff, Philip Horst, Harry Sachs) & Jan van Esch
Calendar, 15 spreads, 297 x 420 mm