311: Historian, Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, On The History & Culture of Fitness in America & Her New Book, Fit Nation

Today on the podcast I am super psyched to be syncing up with my friend, author, historian, fitness instructor and thought leader, Natalia Mehlman Petrzela. Natalia is a historian of contemporary American politics and culture, and an associate professor of history at The New School in New York City. She is the author of two books, the most recent one being Fit Nation: The Gains and Pains of America’s Exercise Obsession and Classroom Wars. Natalia is also a certified fitness instructor with Intensati, the mind-body practice which she has been teaching for nearly three decades and where we met, way back when. She is also the co-host of the weekly history podcast Past Present, which discusses recent events in American politics in the context of American political history. Her work has appeared in top media outlets such as The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Atlantic, the New Republic, CNN, MSNBC and more.  Natalia is a passionate runner, yogi, and fitness enthusiast, and she has a lot of insights to share about the history and culture of exercise in America.

In this episode, we talk about her new book, Fit Nation, and how it connects to her personal and professional journey. We also discuss the origins and evolution of fitness trends at a high level as discussed in her book and do a deeper dive into Yoga and running  and how they all  reflect and shape broader social and political issues. And of course, we talk about her own fitness routine and how she balances it with her busy academic career. Natalia is a fascinating and inspiring person, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy listening to our conversation.

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