A fascinating cultural history of fitness, from Greek antiquity to the era of the "big-box gym" and beyond, exploring the ways in which human exercise has changed over time - and what we can learn from our ancestors.
We humans have been conditioning our bodies for more than 2,500 years, yet it's only recently that treadmills and weight machines have become the gold standard of fitness. For all this new technology, are we really healthier, stronger, and more flexible than our ancestors?
Where Born to Run began with an aching foot, Lift begins with a broken gym system - one founded on high-tech machinery and isolation techniques that aren't necessarily as productive as we think. Looking to the past for context, Daniel Kunitz crafts an insightful cultural history of the human drive for exercise, concluding that we need to get back to basics to be truly healthy.
Lift takes us on an enlightening tour through time, beginning with the ancient Greeks, who made a cult of the human body - the word gymnasium derives from the Greek word for "naked" - and following Roman legions, medieval knights, Persian pahlevans, and 18th-century German gymnasts. Kunitz discovers the seeds of the modern gym in 19th-century Paris, where weight-lifting machines were first employed, and takes us all the way up to the game-changer: the feminist movement of the 1960s, which popularized aerobics and calisthenics classes. This ignited the first true global fitness revolution, and Kunitz explores how it brought us to where we are today.
Once a fast-food inhaler and substance abuser, Kunitz reveals his own decade-long journey to becoming ultra-fit using ancient principals of strengthening and conditioning. With Lift, he argues that, as a culture, we are finally returning to this natural ideal - and that it's to our great benefit to do so.
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Get to Work
I would. This is not a workout primer with exercise routines, rather it presents a narrative argument for changing your life based on nutrition and exercise.
I enjoyed his analysis of Crossfit and Paleo eating. But some listeners might not. If you are an old school power lifter or bodybuilder you might be turned off by his interest in Crossfit. I understand that, having lifted for over 30 years. This book is aimed at someone who is either new to fitness or looking for a different approach. Just be aware of this and listen with an open mind.
This is really an autobiographic sketch by the author, so the best character was the author.
I thought it provided great info. You can be critical of anything if you want, but the functional fitness and back to basics nutrition presented by the author creates a compelling case. You may not want to join a Crossfit box but after you are done I think you will see the value in compound movements and functional exercise supported by a healthy diet.
I recommend this for anyone who is interested in fitness.
Educating yet Educational