Do You Even Lift?

Stock-a-studio fashions a modular gym for Materials & Applications

The installation takes advantage of the storefront quality of Materials & Applications. (Courtesy Materials and Applications)

Over the last century, the fitness club building typology has evolved from the introverted warehouse to an exhibitionist storefront, encouraging passersby to imagine themselves carrying out the newly-aestheticized forms of exercise on display. When invited to create an installation within a storefront gallery in the shadow of L.A.’s Dodger Stadium on Sunset Boulevard, one of three spaces in the city owned by Materials & Applications, the Michigan-based stock-a-studio developed a flashy gym that takes the concept of showing off one’s performance to a new level.

The installation, evocatively titled [ a kit of these some parts ] x budget gym ], is a dense accumulation of shims, foam padding, tape, sandbags, vacuum-formed panels, pulleys, and ratchet straps framed by a neon green structural steel system. What at first seems sculptural is made apparently interactive, first by witnessing a few brave visitors curious enough to push and pull its loose elements, then by a sign near the door stating “the gym is available for public use by appointment.” Between now and January of next year, “the project will serve as a meeting point for exercise-based activities, such as weight-lifting, trainer-led workouts and as a hydration station and meet up point for hiking and biking groups,” according to stock-a-studio. While its assembly may recall the convoluted, “efficient” office gym in Woody Allen’s film Bananas (1971), the installation is far less prescriptive, inviting its users to appropriate its network of platforms and counterweights as they see fit.

A storefront gym made of green shelving rack

The installation’s pieces are easily compacted for reassembly and transportation. (Courtesy Materials & Applications)

The installation is equally a study of finance, adaptation, and “the excessive production of sheer stuff.” Funded by the Taubman College of Architecture & Urban Planning and the Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Grant, the materials for the project were either off-the-shelf or transported to the site by exploiting ambiguities in air travel regulations to come under budget, while demonstrating how an architectural project can be created ”out of loopholes in consumer cycles.” Additionally, the majority of the materials were not altered in the making of the installation, allowing them to be reconfigurable both on-site and at different locations while reducing waste in the long run. After the installation closes in January of next year, its elements will, in fact, be available for event-rental in Los Angeles and Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Related Stories