DOING THINGS VERY SERIOUSLY, WITHOUT TAKING YOURSELF TOO SERIOUSLY
The myth of the Parisian girl with an arrogant attitude, a fringe and impeccable effortlessly beautiful long hair, who stays thin without practicing any activity, who drinks wine and smokes, but stays healthy has come to an end. We met douzen of Parisian women and all of them have something in common...and no, it's not their huffish attitude, nor the je ne sais quoi that makes them elegant, but determination.
A desire to start new projects, a desire to push their limits, a desire to change things. To launch a podcast like Lauren, to publish a magazine like Agathe, to organize parties like Louise or charity dinners for refugees like Letizia, to mention but a few. And none of them look alike. Some of them are born and raised in Paris, some adopted the city in their 20s. Some have shaved heads, some have their arms covered with tatoos, German, American or Scottish accents and none of them goes to the gym in order to eat chocolate religieuses!
Here's a summary of all the points of views in our community…
A love/hate story
If, as Lauren Bastide says, sport is the heir of a "dilettante love/hate relationship", She specifies that actually the Parisian woman has a "healthy lifestyle: she eats well, walks a lot and that explains the thinness of her legs".
Karima, who is in charge of PR for Dynamo Cycling Studio , confirms that the Parisian woman finally starts to consider sports as a form of wellness: "for along time, sports was not related to pleasure. It's been quite different for a few years now, we finally understand the benefits of a physical activitity on mind and body. Studios and juice bars are poping up everywhere in the city. It's beyond a simple trend. It's the beginning of a new era".
And she is not the only one to believe it. Letizia, who go everyday to gyms and studios, makes the same observation: "(The Parisian woman) practices sports and diets all year long... But she doesn't talk about it!", and adds "More and more people around me are practicing activities. Of course, less than my Australian or American friends. But sports are now integrated into their schedules". Sports are now part of a lifestyle.
Sports as a treatment
Though, the French exception would remain more in the way we envision activities. Parisian people have a relationship to their schedule that's formatted through a cultural angle. It is not just about having a physical activity. Sports is more intellectualized. Conceptualized. Less driven by performance. Louise adds "In Paris, we consider exercise as a treat, meaning we seek it for our bodies well being, to reserve a moment for ourselves, rather than to be in competition or driven by performance. For me anyways, exercise is not separated from the rest of my life, I have a holistic vision of well being, it is a question of balance and to listen to your inner voice".
And Tilly, coach at Dynamo Cycling and hot yoga instructor, sees the Parisian woman with the eyes of an outsider who lives in London for a long time. She explains: "Parisian women don't want to be judged, timed, or feel the pressure of competition. Because it's already there in their every day life. On the contrary, they need to receive some support". A lot of us see in this analysis, something that's related to therapy. The French Touch in sports might be "a way of fighting against the stress and in France it's already a challenge to stay zen!"
Julie and Aurélia recently opened an appartment called "Chez Simone", a place dedicated to sports, where you can meet and greet, while savouring healthy food. They think that "It is in our French DNA to be reticent, to take more time than anybody else to have an opinion on something, to be less enthusiastic. We consume differently, we are full of contradictions, but once we are into something, we are also more dedicated to our practice. France is taking over the wellness world and creates its own references: a mix of sports, plates of cheese and delicatessen and açaï bowl."
Run, Run, Run
And running might be the best example in this evolution, gathering more and more players everyday. Coline who lives two minutes away from the Tuileries garden is a live witness of the phenomenon: "Around me, lots of people got on with running, and not just 30 minutes a week, but semi or marathons. And it impacts the urban landscape, the appropriation of the city".
Same conclusion for Miriam who lives in the 10th district: "I have only lived in Paris for three years, but in this very short period of time, I think that the situation has evolved. People are more conscious, more sensitive to the fact that a regular physical activity is crucial for a good balance. (...) I see more and more runners in the streets. Spinning is also a strong marker. People really dedicate themselves in those sports."
The Parisian woman creates a model of active lifestyle for herself, where she feels comfortable.
So, what is the main reason of this 360° evolution? To an evolution of sports marketing, driven to a storytelling where consumers are at the center, pushing intimate insights and not just simple product messages? To the new fitness brands on the market who boost the competition and the creativity of the industry? To the beautiful collaborations between sports and fashion? To the long time approval of creators and influencers? To the rise of a healthy but innovative food scene? It seems that we needed a perfect alignment of all those elements to include sports in our cultural landscape, to integrate them to our lifestyle and see physical activity as a noble thing.
The Parisian woman finally created an athlete persona with whom she can identify: a strong, free of complexes, but not too competitive, who considers sports as a social meeting, as much as a physical activity, a treatment as much as an effort and who practices sports with a mix of fun and seriousness. As we like to say it here, she does it very seriously but without taking herself too seriously.