UweSchmidt 281 days ago [-]
It I was hoping for a better researched article on the lineage of various workout philosophies. Crossfit as an offspring of circuit training, the large family of aerobics including Tae-Bo and many other forgotten ideas.

I also found the tone towards all those excercises a little negative; working out and staying fit is clearly good, and establishing and popularizing excercising in the first generation in human history that had technology to really help with many physical tasks is a difficult and noble task.

The consequence of insufficient excercise on human health is too severe than to belittle the attempts or to focus only on the gender issues of the past.

growlist 281 days ago [-]
Indeed. I get a little tired of the sneery tone many journalists take towards the past, giving themselves an implicit pat on the back for being sooo much smarter.
Bartweiss 280 days ago [-]
Cynically, that sort of tone is much more newsworthy than "exercise is good, health science is tricky and slow, so fads are probably bunk and anything is better than nothing". Write one timeless article like that and you're finished, but attacking the idiocy of whatever trend came before the current one is a stable opportunity.

(Even more cynically, it's the same dumb presentist instinct that shows up everywhere from film styles to foreign policy. "We've got to arm this faction because the stupid idiots before us armed that faction because the idiots before them armed the other faction...")

tomatotomato37 280 days ago [-]
Yeah, all the little jabs at outdated cultural norms pretty much killed the article for me. We get it, people from 50 years ago had unrealistic beauty standards, you don't need to point it out every couple sentences
barry-cotter 280 days ago [-]
That’s not a journalist’s sneering tone towards the past: it’s the sneering of someone who has never understood exercise towards those who do it.
maxcan 280 days ago [-]
I can't speak to other methodologies, but if you're interested in the lineage and philosophy of Crossfit, the old journal articles by Glassman et al. are a gold mine.

https://journal.crossfit.com/article/what-is-fitness <- 2002 piece (with updated pictures) that really sums everything up

http://library.crossfit.com/free/pdf/CFJ_2016_05_Pegboard-Wa... <- "Best of" index

dkarl 280 days ago [-]
I agree completely. This is just a superficial overview of the most obviously ridiculous manifestations of fitness trends, focused on ridiculing people's tastes and motivations. I'm personally frustrated by the quality of information that my friends and family get from various unqualified sources seeking money or attention, and I would love anything that would help them get a better critical perspective, but "isn't it all ridiculous" is not a critical perspective. It's easy to expose how people's concerns about physical fitness are wrapped up in vanity and arbitrary social norms, but you can do the same with food, shelter, and human relationships; does the author have anything interesting to say about what that means?

The closest the article comes to hinting at a more interesting point of view is when it points out in relation to a "Ms. Prudden" that "the paper’s honorific [in 1982] for the author was Miss; The Times was notoriously slow to accommodate Ms., adopting it only in 1986, 15 years after the founding of Ms. magazine." The purpose of mentioning this would seem to be to point out that fitness trends are not unique in reflecting contemporary social mores. But if we're already aware of this, then I'm not sure what the article has to offer except transtemporal voyeurism, trotting out the past to serve as a freak show for the present.

The history of fitness trends could make for an interesting way to see changes in popular ideas about health in gender roles across time. But this article is not a history; it is a catalog of mockery that happens to span a few decades.

noelwelsh 281 days ago [-]
The truth of exercise is that the same stuff that worked 10'000 years ago still works. There isn't really a need for innovation in the world of fitness, but people like variety, or the promise of shortcuts, or the scene attached to a style of fitness, etc. (There is gradual improvement in technique and programming, but this isn't the kind of fitness fad the article is about.)
zaroth 280 days ago [-]
If you think we knew all there is to know about maximizing the performance of the human body 10,000 years ago, why do we keep running a faster mile, jumping a longer jump, lifting a heavier weight, etc.?

The truth is that there is an incredible amount of hard science which is actively expanding our knowledge of how to best train the human body and push the limits of performance, endurance, and strength.

While it is obviously true that scientific advances at the “high end” are showing quantifiable results, it’s harder to ascertain whether the everyman/woman is benefitting, because of so many confounding factors in culture, lifestyle and such. Otherwise we would all be walking around like Greek gods/goddesses with our newfound knowledge.

It was that long ago that weight lifting was shunned by athletes because “bulking up” was thought to lower performance.

Pretty much everything in a modern gym was designed to allow more efficient or lower impact training of any particular body part or system.

If what you’re saying is that we haven’t found a magic pill to bypass the physics of metabolism and muscle growth, certainly this is true. But there’s a lot more out there than just trying to find fancy new packaging, marketing, or gimmicks to sell to people.

chongli 280 days ago [-]
why do we keep running a faster mile, jumping a longer jump, lifting a heavier weight, etc.?

Even if there were no improvements at all we would expect this for no other reason than the statistics of an increasing population of athletes and our effort to pick out only the far right tail of the distribution.

Having said that, nutrition is just better now, for almost everyone, compared to the ancient Greeks. So you would also expect more athletes to come out of today's society than you would back then.

curuinor 280 days ago [-]

the innovation is in pharmaceuticals.

noelwelsh 280 days ago [-]
I'm not arguing that there isn't new knowledge to be gained, but rather there is no magic pill and the fundamentals: progressive overload, rest, balance, etc. (see my other comments in this thread) haven't changed. I believe these fundamentals are the most important. I believe that we have certainly made advances at the margins but they are orders of magnitude less important, unless one is competing at the highest levels.

Basically I'm saying you can get all the exercise you need for general health given a landscape with varied terrain and some imagination; or a barbell, weights, and cage (which will cost <$1000 and last for 20 years); or with other basic tools like gymnastics rings. We don't need fitness fads---but people like them for various reasons. And that's fine.

boulos 280 days ago [-]
Hmm. Cycling didn't exist then, and I think that counts as a useful addition to exercise. In particular, the ability to have serious cardiovascular workouts with reduced impact is huge (swimming obviously existed, but only where you had a useful body of water).
noelwelsh 280 days ago [-]
Agreed, cycling is useful, but it's not essential for fitness. The point I was trying to get across is that no program, or class, or sport has the secret to fitness. It's the same it's always been: balance movements so you don't get joint issues, progressive overload so you get better at a sustainable pace, be consistent, eat good food, and get enough rest.
Bartweiss 280 days ago [-]
It's sort of hard to imagine an exercise scheme that produces much better fitness than what people did historically.

The 'Algernon Argument' says simple smart drugs won't work, because we already evolved brains optimized for using the substances available to us efficiently. In the same vein, it'd be bizarre if we developed bodies that work ok for a hunter-gatherer lifestyle, but respond fantastically well to using a Bowflex for 15 minutes a day.

So if modernity is going to give us exercise benefits, it's probably going to be from changing our options or preferences around the stuff that's always worked. (And we know this is true for other animals; domesticated horses can do any one task better than a wild horse, but they lose on adaptability and resilience.) Good childhood nutrition and disease avoidance make us fitter, readily available protein probably helps too. Knee braces might help avoid cumulative damage over our longer lifespans. Since most of us don't want to exercise 5+ hours each day, things like cycling and swimming might be more efficient exercise than walking. And of course professional athletes simply pursue different goals, with consequently different tactics.

But if something comes around claiming to be better for our general health than spending a lot of time doing varied, progressive exercises, it's time to be suspicious.

Fricken 280 days ago [-]
I cycle all over the place, but you can't get well rounded fitness from it. It's good for your heart, but does little to promote bone density or develop the stability muscles in your legs.
collyw 281 days ago [-]
You could say the same about (most) software development, except on a shorter timescale. We chase a lot of fads and occasionally get genuine improvements.
JohnJamesRambo 280 days ago [-]
What worked 10,000 years ago? Not being snarky, I'd like to know.
noelwelsh 280 days ago [-]
Our bodies are still largely the same. Our skeletons still articulate the same way, muscles still attach in the same places, and our bodies still respond in the same way to what we eat. (There have been some minor changes but nothing that is that significant.) If you were to run and jump, pick up heavy things, throw stuff, swing from trees, go for long walks, and generally do all the things a child---or a hunter-gatherer---does when outdoors you would be very fit (in a general sense; excelling at a specific sport requires specific training).

Balanced exercise, progressive overload, consistency, a good diet, and enough rest are by far the most important factors in fitness. That's been the case for 10,000 years at least. Access to a barbell and bumper plates, or a bike, or protein powder makes at least an order of magnitude less difference.

deegles 280 days ago [-]
Walking a lot, fasting (usually unintentionally), occasional higher-intensity work. No easy access to sugar.
antisthenes 280 days ago [-]
Thinking about it, only time people would have easy access to carbs is during the period of natural ripening of fruit, so late summer/early fall.

Perhaps harvesting and storing honey in limited quantities as well?

JohnJamesRambo 280 days ago [-]
tubers have lots of carbs though
Fricken 280 days ago [-]
Many of the activities we do today for recreation are surrogates for things that were a means of survival for our ancestors.

George's Hebert, a French naval officer who introduced to the world the modern military obstacle course was inspired by fitness of indigenous tribes he had met in Africa.

"Their bodies were splendid, flexible, nimble, skillful, enduring, and resistant but yet they had no other tutor in gymnastics but their lives in nature."

Hebert's Grandson, David Belle, founded Parkour.

harveywi 280 days ago [-]
Pyramid sets. Archaeological evidence supports this, cf. Egypt.