Learning to Breathe Fire: The Rise of Crossfit and the Primal Future of Fitness

J.C. Herz. Crown Archetype, $25 (256p) ISBN 978-0-385-34887-4
New York Times columnist Herz presents a breathless, fervor-of-the-converted ode to the CrossFit empire. The “punk-rock hype” of the movement began in a Santa Cruz, Calif. gym frequently mainly by ex-Marines. The CrossFit routine focuses on short, intense workouts, based on a brutal Workout of the Day, usually named after women or soldiers killed in action, and clock in between three and 25 minutes. The idea is to attain true “functional” fitness, rather than machine-based fitness, which deprives practitioners of “the knowledge of what their bodies, as glorious machines, can do, and the competence and satisfaction of actually doing it.” Herz covers the biology of the routines, the ideals of founder Greg Glassman, the austere meat-based diet, and the tight-knit, competitive community surrounding this practice. Herz’s liveliest writing comes in passages depicting an achievement-oriented world in which women compete on the same level as men, often beating them. Herz’s overwrought adoration of the phenomenon is the book’s main shortcoming. Agent: Sloan Harris, ICM Partners. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/21/2014
Release date: 06/03/2014
Open Ebook - 246 pages - 978-0-385-34888-1
Paperback - 368 pages - 978-0-385-34889-8
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