In The Mass Psychology of Fittism, author Edward Yu employs Nikolai Bernstein's degrees of freedom and Claude Shannon's information theory to analyze both human movement in particular and human learning in general. In doing so, he demonstrates how conventional fitness programs tend to stifle learning as well as inhibit sensorimotor development. By taking a deeper look into fitness and comparing Darwin's original concept of the word to our dominant culture's interpretation of it, Yu further reveals how conventional fitness programs, when compared to less conventional and more exploratory ones, tend to actually minimize, if not reduce, our level of fitness.
The Mass Psychology of Fittism provides not only a unique and detailed analysis of the fitness world, but an examination of both conventional education, and our dominant culture at large. Mass Fittism thereby exposes the socio-politico-economic repercussions of a culture that is increasingly bent on making humans more machine-like, mechanistic, unalive and rigid.
"The Mass Psychology of Fittism is a brilliant book-entertaining and informative, and for many, possibly life-changing. Edward Yu not only questions the current fads in the fitness world that rule how people think, feel and act, but leads us into a very thorough discussion of what fitness could actually mean if we were better informed about artistic, aesthetic, and scientific studies of the body and mind."
- Frank Wildman, PhD, CFT, author of Busy Person's Guide to Easier Movement, Founder of Feldenkrais Movement Institute
"The Mass Psychology of Fittism is an outstanding, well-written critique on the reductionistic thinking that lies behind the simplistic perspective of fitness culture; a perspective in which the path to the body completely bypasses the role of gravity and the brain in development, learning and healing. This book provides a much needed counterpoint to the mechanistic thinking of our time."
- David Zemach-Bersin, CFT, author of Relaxercise: The Easy New Way to Health and Fitness, Co-Founder of Feldenkrais Institute of New York
Table of Contents
Prologue: What Does it Mean to be Fit? … 1
Introduction: The Growing Numbers of "Unfit" … 7
Part 1: Humans, Machines and the 1st Law of Thermodynamics … 13
- Chapter 1. What is Exercise? … 15
- Chapter 2. The Origins of Modern Exercise … 27
- Chapter 3. The 1st Law of Thermodynamics … 35
- Chapter 4. Evolution … 55
- Chapter 5. Cartesian Reductionism … 71
- Chapter 6. The Purpose of Exercise as We Know It … 79
- Chapter 7. The Primacy of Numbers … 85
- Chapter 8. Balance, Degrees of Freedom & External Constraints … 111
- Chapter 9. The Spine & 3 Axes of Rotation... the Neuro in Neuromuscular … 129
- Chapter 10. Reliability & Accuracy, Quality of Movement and Being Human … 143
Part 2: Information, Knowledge and the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics … 171
- Chapter 11. Evolution, Information Theory, and a New Perspective on Fitness … 173
- Chapter 12. Information Processing and Range of Strong Motion … 197
- Chapter 13. Information to Knowledge: The Neuro in Neuromuscular … 217
- Chapter 14. Evolution (or God) Doesn’t Make Mistakes … 233
- Chapter 15. Freedom and Response-Ability … 247
- Chapter 16. Learning, Novelty, Information & Knowledge … 261
- Chapter 17. Novelty, Redundancy and Compressing Information … 285
- Chapter 18. The Quick and the Dead … 311
Part 3: An Old Theory and a New perspective: Relating Fitness to Evolution, Neuromuscular Complexity, Entropy and the Ground … 329
- Chapter 19. A Few Words on Talent and (Over) Efforting … 331
- Chapter 20. Complexity, Entropy and Learning … 347
- Chapter 21. Learning: Sense-Ability, Neuromuscular Complexity and Reversing Entropy … 361
- Chapter 22. Alternatives: Evolution, the Foot and the Ground … 385
- Chapter 23. Recommendations … 405
Epilogue: 2,092,726 Quick and Easy Steps to 6-pack Abs (and other important secrets to getting fit) … 417
Bibliography … 443
Acknowledgements … 455
Index … 465
From the Epilogue
"…in contrast to our glamorized image of what it means to be fit, the process of getting fit, when viewed from an evolutionary perspective, can seem commonplace and even mundane. Yet for all that it lacks in industrial shine, fitness as a form of exploring, learning and growing harkens back to a truly enlivening process by which humans have survived and even thrived for eons — a process which is quintessentially holistic, diverse and imaginative, rather than reductionistic, robotic and anesthetizing. This is because in the evolutionary and thus, revitalized sense of the word, fitness alludes to our innate desire to explore; it alludes, in other words, to our inextinguishable, if culturally repressed, yearning to live more fully, and the invigorating process by which this yearning can be fulfilled."
What People are Saying
"There is a microsecond moment between when a motor plan or habit forms when it be either unconsciously carried out or consciously stopped. In that moment one can learn to suspend even the most deeply rooted habits of action. This book will help you move from the culturally determined habits of obsession and compulsion to a way of living with dignity and the freedom of choice."
- Jeff Haller, PhD, CFT, Founder of Ideal Organization and Profound Strength Academy
"Once you are finished reading this book you will have a new and more complete understanding of what it means to be a human being. Edward Yu's 'sense-able' approach to exercise, health and movement strips away all that is wrong with the fitness industry and leaves you with all that is right about what it means to play like a kid again."
- Terrence Mahon, Boston Athletic Association High Performance Coach, 4x USATF World Champs Team Coach
"Edward Yu provides a furious challenge to the fitness industry in this well-researched and provocative piece. This book is the 'bible' for anyone deeply interested in an unconventional and humane approach to movement."
- Jacob Marinko, Founder of Movelution/MovNat Scandinavia
"Is talent inborn or is it acquired through learning? Edward Yu's book sheds important light on this controversial topic by elucidating the often ignored fundamentals of learning. This is a must read for both coaches and athletes wanting to not only reach higher levels performance, but enjoy the process of getting there."
- Krešimir Šoš, Head Conditioning Coach at GNK Dinamo Zagreb, Croatia
"With thorough and painstaking research, Edward Yu shows us how much of modern fitness tends to impose a machine-like ideal on human beings. Fortunately, he also goes into great depths in helping us find ways of putting the humanity back into our movement practices. This book gives a clear and reasoned voice to what many somatic practitioners have known and sensed, yet not been quite able to articulate."
- John Tarr, Feldenkrais Assistant Trainer, Professional Musician
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Media: Book, Paperback, 500 pages