Natalia Mehlman Petrzela is not your typical academic; she is an associate professor of history at the New School in New York. She is well-versed in contemporary popular culture and has achieved success by venturing outside of the conventional confines of academic institutions. Her work has been published in journals that are evaluated by experts in the field, and she also shares the results of her study on podcasts and other forms of media. She also works part-time as a fitness teacher to supplement her income.
Her most recent book, “Fit Nation: The Gains and Pains of America’s Exercise Obsession,” which was published by the University of Chicago Press, investigates the cultural significance of fitness celebrities such as Jack LaLanne and Richard Simmons, and it traces the rise of jogging, Jazzercise, yoga, and Peloton. Her previous books include “Fit Nation: The Gains and Pains of America’s Obsession with Food” and “Fit Nation: The Gains and Pains of The book was subjected to a rigorous review process by industry experts before being published by a reputable publishing house in an effort to refute the notion that fitness is only an expression of fashionable vanity.
The path that Dr. Petrzela has taken via popular culture has brought her to the world of podcasting. She is the presenter of the weekly programme “Past Present,” which examines the cultural patterns of the past and present. In recent episodes, she has applied a historical perspective to topics such as the function of family relationships in the film industry and the rise of Ozempic, a diabetes medication that has gained popularity as a weight-loss drug. Other topics she has covered include the history of weight loss drugs and the role of family in Hollywood.
Her research on the history of physical activity has, however, given rise to a contentious debate. Time magazine published an interview with Dr. Petrzela at the tail end of the year that included a mention of her research indicating that, in the early 1900s, some exercise proponents encouraged white women to work out so that they could be strong enough to populate the country with white babies. This occurred during a time when the United States was experiencing an influx of immigrants. This fact was highlighted in the title that appeared in Time magazine, which read, “The White Supremacist Roots of Exercise, and 6 More Shocking Facts About the History of Physical Health in the United States.”
Donald J. Trump Jr. provided his response to the story in the form of an Instagram post, in which he said, “Remember guys, if it’s not climate change it’s racial supremacy.” Dr. Petrzela said that she was the target of death threats in the wake of the subsequent criticism. She has found herself smack dab in the centre of the heated online discussions that are a normal part of using social media.
Dr. Petrzela is referred to as “a highly serious scholar and a public intellectual who is fairly unusual in wondering, ‘How can we bring knowledge out into the world and impact social change?'” by Estelle Freedman, a history professor at Stanford University. Dr. Petrzela has said that one of her career goals is to become a “history communicator,” which refers to a person who is able to reach a big number of people with works that are the result of extensive study on the topics that fascinate her. She said, “I’ve had to follow the established criteria of publishing in journals and getting peer-reviewed,” but she also stated, “but I’m also doing this other things and fighting for the validity of themes that wander outside of politics and policy.”