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How to train Franz Kafka

If you strolled through Prague in the late 1910s, you might have glanced at a half-naked (or completely naked) Franz Kafka, who shamelessly jumped, stretched, and twirled outside his apartment window. [19659002InseinenspätenZwanzigernwarKafkabesessendavonsichaufzumischen"MeinKörperistzulangfürseineSchwäche"schriebereinmal;however"EsistnichtdasgeringsteFettumeinegesegneteWärmezuerzeugeneininneresFeuerzubewahrenkeinFettaufdassichderGeistgelegentlichüberseinentäglichenBedarfhinausernährenkönnteohnedasGanzezubeschädigen"DieeigenenÄrztestimmtendemzuGefühlImJahr1907sagteeinArztKafkasKörpersei"dünnundempfindlichEristrelativschwach"(UmdieWundeweiterzusalzenbeschriebderselbeArztKafkasSchlüsselbeinals"drumstick-shaped")

That changed as Kafka discovered the work of Jørgen Peter Müller.

As a Danish fitness guru, known for skiing only with a loincloth, Muller was probably one of the most famous people in Europe at the time. In 1

904 he published a pamphlet named My System which promised to turn every debilitating body into a Greek god with just 15 minutes of daily exercise. His fitness books have been sold by the millions and translated into at least 25 languages. Müller's methods were so popular that his name became a verb – "for Müller" was the equivalent of "exercise."

As Sarah Wildman writes for Slate, My System is something of a precursor to Pilates borrowing from ballet and needing no gear, aside from engagement. It is strict but appealing. "The regime consists of bodyweight exercises – toe touch, squats, leg raises, modified pushups – that could be performed by the comfort of a bedroom, no dumbbells required.

The book seems to have been written only for Kafka, who was used to sedentary office projections – he had worked for an insurance office once a day for 12 hours. Often a sad phenomenon, "says Müller," bowing prematurely, shoulders and hips out of his dislocating Position on the office stool, pale, with a delicious face. "

When he saw himself in Mueller's writing, Kafka became a Calisthenian zealot. As a modern CrossFit fanatic, Kafka sings the praises of routine – and even writes a letter to his fiancé who insists she tries , (It's not surprising that they never got married.) Twice a day he would shamelessly be "Muller" outside his window, sometimes completely naked.

The exercise book is a lot of things right for both Kafka and Müller. It preaches the importance of core and back strength and provides solid exercises to achieve those goals. Müller also gives health tips that were not that common on that day. He advises people to drink alcohol in moderation, to drink properly, to brush their teeth, and to sleep eight hours each evening. As Wildman notes, "Half of his exercises are now part of the standard back pain recommendations for patients."

Want to try Kafka's exercise routine? Take a look at the guide from Müller here in the Internet Archive. (Window colors optional, but strongly recommended.)

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