By examining fads through the decades, from weight lifting for men and women in the early days, to jogging, cycling, aerobics, and now spinning, Kolata explains the science of conditioning and the objective evidence behind commonly accepted prescriptions. Among the questions she addresses are:
Kolata profiles researchers who successfully challenged conventional wisdom and marketed their inventions, and some who resisted initial criticism only to back down from their claims. With lively sketches of many of the mavericks who have influenced the industry, Kolata presents an eye-opening view of the inside workings of a multimillion-dollar business.
Lively and engaging, Ultimate Fitness spotlights the machines and machinations and cuts through the marketing hype, not only to assess what is healthy, but also to understand what our obsession with staying healthy says about American culture today.
©2003 Gina Kolata; (P)2003 Audio Renaissance, a division of Holtzbrick Publishers, LLC.
"Kolata brings both personal enthusiasm and journalistic skepticism to her subject." (Publishers Weekly)
"Kolata challenges many prevailing fitness assumptions." (The New York Times Book Review)
Little more than a few, very thin NY Times articles linked together by tedious descriptions of the author's spinning classes. Frankly, it's hard for me to believe that any publisher would have gone through the trouble to publish this book. If you have almost no knowledge of even the basics of exercise, then you might find this book useful. Otherwise, it's not worth the time or money.
I thought I would get something more than the narcissistic ramblings of the author. I kept hoping it would get better, but with a good hour spent on her and her husband's spinning class, it was truly a waste of time. Trust me, the time listening to this book would be better spent working out.
I too was hoping for some substance. I couldn't believe how boring and trivial most of this book was - a love letter to the author's current obsession (spinning), with very little of the serious analysis and insight I was hoping for. There are a few gems - a few cites studies - buried in this book, but they are not discussed with the scientific rigor I would expect from a science writer.
The book is 1/4 to 1/3 about deconstructing commonly held beliefs about fitness and exercise (the valuable part) and the balance is devoted to weaving an autobiographical narrative about her love of intense exercise. Although the narrative makes it more readable, I didn't buy it to learn all about her individual exercise passions and habits--I wanted to know about what's true and false about fitness. Too bad she didn't stay on point.
Fitness buffs will appreciate this book. Kolata uncovers the scientific research (or lack thereof) behind such fitness standards as interval training, max heart rate = your age - 220, and certified physical trainers. I enjoyed it so much that I ordered a hard copy so I can find out what I missed from this abridged audio version. The reader for this book is excellent too.
This is more like listening to an exercise fanatic discuss her regime than a scientific expose. As a fellow fanatic, her questions made sense as did her search for perfect workouts. I really enjoyed the listen, but can understand where some might be disappointed.
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