This study began with practitioner observations in a specialist personal training practice, where anecdotal themes were noted from middle-aged clients. Sedentary, exercise averse individuals reported similar experiences as adolescents, whereas active clients gave a different narrative. These themes suggested differing possible typologies that could result in ‘corporeal dissociation’ in the inactive, a name coined in this work, a state of physical detachment. The study investigates lives lived, through a life course theoretical perspective, within a pragmatic paradigm. The methodology is bricolage. Qualitative and quantitative multi-methods are both used in order to look at the research questions from differing perspectives. Firstly, 10 practitioners were interviewed qualitatively to see if the phenomenon was happening in other practices within the same geographical area and it was found to be so. Then 800 middle aged men and women completed a quantitative online survey about a range of experiences around ‘home’, ‘about me’, ‘school’, ‘friends’ and ‘leisure activities’, aged 10-16. Statistical analysis found traits and experiences in youth clustered and a number of typologies were discovered amongst the self reported extremely active and inactive, which constituted 22.05% of the sample. The final study used narrative enquiry to establish lifecourse themes of activity and inactivity that link adolescence and middle age. The narratives of 4 active and 4 inactive men and women were analysed showing school and specifically PE and the PE teachers were the strongest signifiers and influences. Behaviours established at this time continued into middle age in all interviewees.
Results show that corporeal dissociation can be found in practice and its origins in PE experience identified. Tentative typologies have been determined and have been mapped between school and middle age. The outcome of the study is to use all this evidence to develop tools for the practitioner that might help with client exercise adherence.