Are You a Fitster?

hipster gym

Our fashion writer Dani analyses the emergence of “fitsters” across the country…

Gone are the days when going to the gym entailed exercise! Fashion and fitness are so closely linked that a leg-day cannot pass without an Instagram post of someone’s air-light trainers or fibre-technology shorts. The concept of gym itself has evolved, making the beach front promenade or local park a public place to pump, lift and stretch. Out of this obsession has sprung a sub-culture of “Fitsters” – trading in their vintage eco-friendly bicycles for spinning bikes.

Hipsters are the ironically inclined arty intellectuals who pride themselves on their non-mainstream mantra, dismissing trends and hanging around free-trade coffee shops and bookstores in Braamfontein in Johannesburg and Woodstock in Cape Town. We all have that “hipster” friend or perhaps you have been called a hipster yourself, making you defensive and eager to prove that your newly grown moustache is because you just let it grow (not telling them how long you spend curling it in the mornings).

This sub-culture is making a shift, demonstrated by men with braided beards in recycled cotton vests doing yoga in the morning and lifting weights in the evening. The steroid-induced 8-pack has lost its appeal and the outlook on fitness is not about getting fit fast but rather enjoying the fitness process and making it a social statement (often on Facebook with the accompanied #Fitfam hashtag).


Fashion is part of the fitness experience as sports brands like Nike, New Balance and Adidas rival designers. But Fitsters will deny their affinity for brands and rather go for the unknown slogan gym tees, publicly advertising that they could outrun, outlast and outplay you.

The new cool is about being strong and healthy, but if it’s not documented with a selfie in the mirror all your efforts are for nothing. Exercise is secondary – it’s developed (or rather regressed) into a fashion show about not only your look but what class you are taking or which marathon you are training for next month.

The tattooed man in skinny jeans, who reads Tolstoy and drinks his Ethiopian coffee at the corner café in town, can now be found in the park doing weight training with a man-bun, wearing sweat-reducing leggings. Fitsters are invading on all platforms (technological and social) just as the Hipsters did a few years ago, but beware, these guys can recite poetry and body-slam you in one swift movement.

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