“Modern warriors, let’s get started,” introducing Ancient Workouts with Omar

Omar’s got a show on the History Channel; Omar’s got a show on the History Channel! Hey, did you hear? Omar, he’s got a new show, like a legit show, on the History Channel! (Ok, the online version, but still. . .)

Ok. Maybe I’m a bit over the top, but I think any time evidence-based folks get some airtime and a chance to increase exposure to the masses, it’s a good thing. If I were in charge of the universe, only evidence-based health and fitness information could be sold as information to folks and everyone else trying to sell you something would have to start with some kind of Surgeon General’s warning: “What I’m about to advise to you is completely bunk and may in fact do you harm.”

But, since no one asked me, for now I’ll settle for some of my favorite evidence-based folks getting a little time in the spotlight, maybe even possibly becoming household names outside our nerdy corner of the fitness universe.

A person can dream.

And what do I think of the first episode? It’s fun. Omar is funny and feels natural in the role of host, as he should given his decade-plus of experience producing his own stuff. I don’t know if this is enough to inspire random, non-lifting folks to get into lifting, but maybe it helps take our niche sport out of the realm of freak shows and football players a bit.

Unfortunately, I do have to wipe the dust off and bring out the old Hundtoft-Bechdel test(1) and demerit this first episode for lack of representation of non-men. There isn’t a single woman in the entire 10 minutes of the show. A cursory online search suggests there were few female gladiators, but they did exist. More of concern to me, however, is that in his “gladiator workout,” Omar suggests overhead press at bodyweight for as many reps as possible (AMRAP). I would suggest this routine excludes only the most elite women lifters, as a bodyweight overhead press would be quite a feat for most of us. On most lifting comparison charts, I usually qualify as an intermediate lifter, edging towards advanced in a couple lifts, and my max overhead press is about 55% of bodyweight. So, I’m annoyed that once again women are being treated like we don’t lift, and we aren’t part of the lifting community. It would be simple enough to give a more inclusive metric. Hopefully, future workout sections are more intentional.

Here is Omar’s video introducing the series on his channel, and below I’ve linked the first 10-minute episode about Roman Gladiators.

(1) The Hundtoft-Bechdel test is my admittedly hacky way of giving credit, or more commonly a bit of shade, to fitness content producers and their abilities, or lack thereof, to make content that is universally accessible to all athletes, regardless of gender.

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