In this riveting cultural history of fitness, from Greek antiquity to the era of the “big-box gym” and beyond, Daniel Kunitz explores the ways in which exercise and physical ideals have changed through the centuries, and what we can learn from our athletic past.
In Lift, Kunitz takes us on an enlightening tour through time, from the ancient Greeks, Asian martial artists, and Persian pahlavans to nineteenth-century German gymnasts and the bronzed bodies of California’s Muscle Beach. He uncovers the roots of the modern gym in the late nineteenth century, following them to the ultimate game-changer: the feminist movement, which kicked off the exercise boom of the 1970s and helped create the big-box gyms we know today.
Reflecting on his own decade-long quest to transform from a fast-food junkie into an ultra-fit—if aging—athlete, Kunitz argues that another exercise revolution is under way now—a new frontier in fitness, in which the ideal of a bikini body is giving way to a focus on mastering the movements of life.
An intelligent, skillfully narrated book, Lift is an insightful look into the history of what it means to be fit.
“An illuminating compendium… Writing in lucid anecdotal prose, Kunitz is a master at creating a compelling narrative.” —Publishers Weekly
“An elegant book with literary qualities that suggest George Plimpton. An excellent contribution to the literature of athletic performance and of interest to anyone with a penchant for self-improvement-and not just physical.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Kunitz concludes that the most effective tools are already at hand and successfully shows how classic methods of conditioning can still be effective today… This book will be of interest to cultural historians and fitness enthusiasts.” —Library Journal
“A thoroughly researched and highly informative account… This thoughtful, accessible, and remarkably insightful cultural history of fitness will appeal to anyone who has set foot into a gym or laced up running shoes while wondering, ‘Why am I doing this?’” —Booklist (starred review)
“Kunitz artfully narrates the history of physical conditioning and our ever-shifting understanding of what it means to be fit.” —Wall Street Journal
“A thorough history of the activity and business of fitness.” —New York Times Book Review
“[An] insightful premise.” —Washington Post
“An inspiring read for all shapes and sizes.” —Marie Claire, Health News Page, July 2016