• Review: How Fitness Joined the Middle-Class Mainstream

    by Katrina Gulliver

    Natalia Mehlman Petrzela's "Fit Nation" reviews the move of exercise from the fringe to the mainstream, while examining the ways fitness culture reflects social divisions in America. 

  • Behind America's Relationship to Exercise

    Natalia Mehlman Petrzela's "Fit Nation" places the growth of a vast private exercise industry in a context heavy on moralizing and idealizing and light on public support for healthy living. 

  • The Art of Swimming (Excerpt)

    by Bill Hayes

    Unline many recognizable modern sports, for most of human history swimming was treated as a utilitarian activity (and occasionally as a pleasure), unsuited for competition or spectatorship.

  • New Book Asks if Exercise is a Path to Power for Women

    Danielle Freedman's new book identifies the paradox of exercise for women: the subversive potential of training, strengthening and developing the capability of the body is yoked to an exploitative diet and beauty culture.

  • Muscle Motion:

    by Natalia Mehlman Petrzela

    A 1983 home workout video featuring the Chippendales dancers reflected the convergence of multiple cultural changes in home video, fitness culture, pornography, and the mainstreaming of female desire. Everything has a history!

  • When Men Started to Obsess Over Six-Packs

    by Conor Heffernan

    Today's culture of Instagrammed abdominal muscles traces back to the time when nineteenth-century physical culture movements converged with the archaeological discovery of ancient Greek statuary (bodybuilders then used the new technology of photography in ways we'd recognize). 

  • Goodbye to the Cult of SoulCycle

    by Natalia Mehlman Petrzela

    The attachment of deep spiritual meaning to commercialized exercise brands creates a climate ripe for abuse and exploitation, writes a historian of fitness culture.