Bodywork and corona: in the face of the refrigerator.

Gymnastics began as human optimization for the nation. Today, you train for capitalism – or you just go into the kitchen and eat.

Felgaufschwung strictly forbidden. If you want to do gymnastics, you have to do it at home Photo: Camera4/imago

These are fat days, for all the people who have retreated to the home office. The way to the refrigerator is only a few meters long. The always appropriate greeting for all home workers has always been "Mahlzeit!" anyway. People and experts advise people to take care of themselves. They send pictures of themselves exercising on the living room floor to the world via social networks.

Anyone who sees this will have a guilty conscience by the time they’ve eaten their eighth loaf of honey bread and unrolled the yoga mat they bought when they decided to be a little more mindful of themselves out of fear of an impending burnout. The decision to finally change one’s life may not have actually been implemented, but the Corona gymnastics class on the linoleum at home will once again confirm that it was fundamentally the right thing to do.

"Change!" is the magic word of the self-optimizers who screw at their bodies in gyms, yoga, simply jogging, nourishing themselves or some trend like Crossfit. "But the Change!" only comes if you don’t let up. A few weeks of running? A few breathing exercises? Lift a few weights? Cutting out the white flour for a change? Just letting go on vacation? It’s not going to work that way." With these words, Tim Bindel describes the problems that arise when you want to optimize your body.

He writes this in a collection of essays called "Texte zur Turnkunst," which was recently published by Verbrecher Verlag. The professor of sports pedagogy draws a line from the training of the disciples of gymnastics father Jahn to the mindfulness and six-pack apologists of the present. They, too, are concerned with fitness. "Many people are doing gymnastics again," he writes, "they want to be ready for battle, not so much national as capital."

History of mindfulness

Anyone who studies the life of Carola Joseph will learn how long gymnastic exercises have been offered in private studios in this country. Christoph Ribbat has done this in detail in his new book "Die Atemlehrerin" (Suhrkamp). Carola Joseph became a gymnastics teacher in Berlin in the 1920s. This is a time when various reform movements want to set new stimuli through gymnastics or dancing. Quite a few of these new gymnasts find that their gymnastics would look quite good in the National Socialist cult of movement and allow themselves to be included.

Others are reluctant, and Carola Joseph has no choice anyway. She becomes a Jewish refugee, and life takes the now married Carola Spitz to New York, where she calls herself Carola Spread and runs a "Studio of Physical Re-Education" in Central Park. Until she is 97, she will teach people to breathe, earning small fame but never becoming famous. Anyone who reads this great book about a life that wasn’t really great will wish they had snorted with Carola Spread. Just once. It doesn’t always have to be the big change.

Here’s to a ninth honey bread in the home office!