Book Summary

From the athletes of Ancient Greece to modern-day Navy SEALs, the origins of gymnastics to American Ninja Warrior, and a focus on aesthetics to “practicing at life,” Daniel Kunitz outlines the history and culture of fitness through the ages. Narrated alongside his personal journey from a lifestyle of drugs, alcohol, fast food, and no more exercise than the daily stairwell climb to a diet devoid of gluten and a daily routine replete with 5 a.m. morning and evening CrossFit workouts, Kunitz explains how fitness has evolved since the first civilizations. Framed as the history of exercise, Lift pays particular attention to shifting attitudes of health and fitness, arguing for two major revolutions changing the meaning of those words: the feminist movement of the 1960s and 1970s and the current emphasis on functional movements and training for self-improvement, an advancement he entitles New Frontier Fitness. Though frequently reading like CrossFit propaganda, this book not only elucidates unconsidered fitness facts—like the story of the first gymnasium, the naming of “jumping jacks,” the truth about the original marathon, or the birth of jazzercise—but provides confirmation for an exerciser’s pursuits and a convincing argument for the reframing of “fitness” from training for an event to practicing at life.