Thursday, 26 May 2016

gym history..

The Temple of Perfection: A History of the Gym
Eric Chaline    Reaktion   
Knees up, knees up…head the ball
Nervous energy makes him tick. He’s a health fanatic ... he makes you sick
Despite his cutting stanzas, John Cooper Clarke’s 1978 poem,Health Fanatic, gave a cultural legitimacy to the 20th-century fitness craze. ‘Going to the gym’ is now a well-worn phrase with the 16 per cent of Americans who are gym members; in Britain the figure is 12 per cent. Gyms have become a familiar part of the global urban landscape. Their brightly lit and open facades expose their occupants pounding away on the rows of treadmills and stationary bikes, while listening to their iPods or watching big screens. 

The Temple of Perfection

A History of the GymEric Chaline

The gym is often seen as an emblem of modernity, but its origins date back 2,800 years to the very beginnings of Western civilization. The Temple of Perfection charts the gym’s long history, exploring its enduring appeal and growing popularity in a world increasingly obsessed with physical perfection, and attracted by the quick fixes of plastic surgery and miracle diet pills. 

How we look after our bodies is based on the complex interplay of spiritual beliefs, moral discipline and aesthetic ideals that are entangled with the dynamics of political, social and sexual power. Today, training in a gym is primarily associated with individual fulfilment, but the gym has always had another role in creating men and women who are ‘fit for purpose’ – but exactly for what and whose purpose? In its many incarnations, the gym has been the stage on which the interests of the individual, the state, the media and the corporate world have intersected, sometimes with unintended consequences. Although the gym may look like a place where the self-obsessed pursue the superficial ideal of physical perfection, Eric Chaline argues that it has always been one of the principal battlefields of humanity’s social, political, sexual and cultural wars. 

The history of the gym is also a history of the human body: its real and idealized forms, artistic representation and public and private presentation. Although this book may not make you want to go to the gym, it will transform the way you think about it

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