How fitness in America went from a circus act to a national obsession

By Lauren Gilger
Published: Thursday, April 18, 2024 - 11:28am
Updated: Thursday, April 18, 2024 - 6:01pm

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Natalia Mehlman Petrzela Fit Nation book
University of Chicago Press, Natalia Mehlman Petrzela
Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, author of “Fit Nation: The Gains and Pains of America’s Exercise Obsession”

Natalia Mehlman Petrzela is an historian by trade — and a gym rat by choice. 

In her new book, she combines those loves. "Fit Nation: The Gains and Pains of America's Exercise Obsession" traces the history of fitness in the Unites State, from a time when it was considered part of a circus act to today, where it’s a national obsession. 

Petrzela talked about how her love of fitness later in life. 

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