Friday, July 29, 2016

Lift: The History of Fitness Culture

Lift: Fitness Culture, from Naked Greeks and Acrobats to Jazzercise and Ninja Warriors, by Daniel Kunitz
Publisher: Harper Wave
Publication date: July 5. 2016
Category: Nonfiction
Source: I received a free copy of this galley from TLC Book Tours for consideration of a review.

With my new interest in exercise this year (I'm up to 20 lbs lost since January), I jumped at the chance to review a book on the history of exercise! In his new book Lift, out July 5, 2016, author Daniel Kunitz first seeks to answer the question why? Why do we exercise? Most of us are not athletes, we are not competing in events, we do not need to take exercise to the levels of dedication that we do. So why the push for exercise in our culture currently? While Kunitz admits there are those who use exercise in unhealthy ways (an addiction to the sense of euphoria or as control over one's body), he makes a couple points that most anyone who exercises regularly would give a standing ovation for.

First the obvious: "We are always either getting stronger or weaker; improving or decaying; learning or forgetting - and the athlete tries to right the ship daily."

The second is longer, but it's the one I like and think other fitness minded people would cheer: "It is this marshaling of habits that I call the practicing of life, of which athletic training is only one form. Practice regimes have evolved in many forms, from the ascetic life of religion to that of the military to artistic practice, acting, medicine, philosophy, and scholarship - all aim at some type of self-enhancement through training. But athletic practice holds special interest for us because it forms the basis for all other types that followed...While [other] regimes are all voluntary, we are born into the regime of the body...we are always practicing some sort of fitness regime, be it sitting or gymnastics...For once we progress beyond the limited goal of merely shaping our bodies, we stop acting as if we were machines with a single purpose and instead begin aspiring to expansive ideals. We begin practicing the artistry of the self."

"Born into the regime of the body..." indeed. It's interesting to note that this has always been the case for everyone and yet, over time, views and types of exercise have evolved. But like all advancement, we must stop to ask ourselves if bigger is necessarily better? And this is where Kunitz begins to explore the essentials of exercise and its place in humanity. From the ancient Greeks to the feminist movement of the past century, stopping everywhere in between, Kunitz explores and asks, What are the basics of exercise and why should we get back to them?

Well, you'll have to read Lift to find out. With Kunitz's humor and the topic of exercise this close to the Olympics, it's a book many people can appreciate and enjoy right now.

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Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Daniel Kunitz AP

About Daniel Kunitz

Daniel Kunitz has served as editor in chief of Modern Painters, as well as an editor at the Paris Review and Details, and has been a contributor to Vanity Fair, Harper’s Magazine, and New York. He is also an avid CrossFitter and weightlifter. He lives in New York City.


  1. With the Olympics coming up I'm looking forward to learning more about the history of fitness. Sounds like this would be a fascinating read!

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.

  2. As someone who is also new to fitness (in the last few months), I'm intrigued by this one. Six months ago I would have skipped right over it based on the title! Thanks for putting it on my map.

    1. Same here! I wouldn't even have even noticed it!