lift coverLift: Fitness Culture, from Naked Greeks and Acrobats to Jazzercise and Ninja Warriors

Lift: Fitness Culture, from Naked Greeks and Acrobats to Jazzercise and Ninja Warriors, author Daniel Kunitz

Learn some history about fitness.

You should read Lift if:

  • you have an interest in fitness
  • you want to learn the cultural history of fitness
  • you want to improve your own level of fitness.

TLC Book Tours sent me a free copy of Lift for reading and reviewing purposes. Thank you TLC Book Tours for having me as part of your book tour!

Introduction to Lift

Lift has ten chapters:

Chapter 1:  The Inner Statue

Chapter 2:  But Is It Good for You?

Chapter 3:  Feeling, Breathing, Going to War

Chapter 4:  Bodyweight Politics

Chapter 5: Hercules and Athletic Renaissance

Chapter 6:  Training for the Mirror

Chapter 7:  Acrobats and Beefcake

Chapter 8:  The Tyranny of the Wheel

Chapter 9:  From Women’s Work to the Women’s Movement

Chapter 10:  Practicing Life

Lift has 336 pages

Daniel Kunitz takes you on a journey beginning with the Greeks and ending with fitness as we know it today.

Take Home Point

Here’s a quote from Lift, that resonated with me and I know it will resonate with you too:

“When I wake up each day deciding I will measure success not in the mirror or on the bathroom scale but by performance criteria (be they faster times, bigger weights, new gymnastic skills, or something else), I am saying I will not treat my body as a product to be packaged in just the right (the “perfect”) balance of muscles.” (page 160)

How many of us measure success by what we see in the mirror or the number on the bathroom scale? We must stop doing this.  Performance is key!

Some Interesting Fitness Facts in Lift

Greeks trained naked.

The Greek women were not allowed to train or even watch the men train. (eventually, this changed)

Women were not encouraged to exercise.

The medical community did not encourage patients to exercise because they feared the person would create too much stress resulting in a heart attack.

Fitness for women was largely focused on weight loss and not strength.

Mr. Kunitz provides many interesting fitness facts.

Thoughts About Lift

Lift is a book with lots of cultural history relating to fitness.  If like fitness and history, you will like reading this book.

The author, Daniel Kunitz has a down-to-earth writing style that grabs your attention and I felt like he was talking to me.  He caught my attention in the beginning (prologue) and I was hooked.

Learning about the cultural history and how fitness evolved into what we know it today is interesting.

As I read Lift, this thought stuck in my mind, “Nothing in fitness is really new, it is just improved upon.”

What do I mean by this?

For example, a lot of the kinds of exercises and functional movements the Greeks did we see them today.

Mr. Kunitz also shares information about CrossFit and he does Crossfit.  After reading about CrossFit in Lift, you may be tempted to find a gym offering CrossFit.

Lift is not a hard book to read or understand, it just has lots of pages.  The author’s down-to-earth tone held my attention and kept me reading.


Overall, I learned a lot of new information about fitness.

If you are interested in fitness and learning the cultural history behind how it all came about, read Lift.

I enjoyed reading Lift, even though I thought I would never finish.

After reading this book, I will try new things and push myself to improve my performance.

If you want to learn some history about fitness and get inspiration to get your own fitness game in check, read Lift.

Guess what? I want to do a handstand and work up to walking on my hands. Thanks, Lift!




Lift coverAbout Lift

• Hardcover: 336 pages
• Publisher: Harper Wave (July 5, 2016)

A riveting cultural history of fitness, from Greek antiquity to the era of the “big-box gym” and beyond, exploring the ways in which human exercise and physical ideals have changed over time—and what we can learn from our past.

How did treadmills and weight machines become the gold standard of fitness? Why have some of us turned our backs on the mirrors and gleaming devices of the traditional gym? What is the appeal of the stripped-down, functional approach to fitness that’s currently on the rise?

In this captivating narrative, Daniel Kunitz sets out on a journey through history to answer these questions and more. What he finds is that, while we humans have been conditioning our bodies for more than 2,500 years, we’ve done so for a variety of reasons: to imitate gods, to be great warriors, to build nations and create communities, to achieve physical perfection, and, of course, to look good naked. Behind each of these goals is a story and method of exercise that not only illuminates the past but also sheds light on aspects of the widespread, multi-faceted fitness culture of today.

Lift begins with the ancient Greeks, who made a cult of the human body—the word “gymnasium” derives from the Greek word for “naked”—and then takes us on an enlightening tour through time, following Asian martial artists, Persian pahlevans, nineteenth-century German gymnasts, and the bronzed bodies of California’s Muscle Beach. Kunitz uncovers the seeds of the modern gym in the late nineteenth-century with the invention of the first weightlifting machines, and brings us all the way up to the ultimate game-changer: the feminist movement, which kicked off the exercise boom of the 1970s with aerobics, and ultimately helped create the big-box gyms we know today.

Using his own decade-long journey to transform himself from a fast-food junkie into an ultra-fit—if aging—athlete as a jumping off point, Kunitz argues that another exercise revolution is underway 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.

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Daniel Kunitz APAbout 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.

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