During weekends in the 1940’s and 1950’s, Dr. Hans Kraus (1905-1996) was an American rock climbing pioneer, making first ascents that were so bold that no one dared to venture in his footsteps (or climbing boots) for years.
But on weekdays, Hans traded rope and pitons for lab coat and patients. In medicine as well as mountains, Kraus was equally fearless, making bold and controversial discoveries that led to run-ins with the medical establishment – maybe not surprising, considering the AMA still endorsed health benefits of cigarette smoking well into the 1950’s.
Kraus’ revolutionary breakthrough: using exercise to understand and treat muscle problems and back pain. In 1961, Kraus began secretly to treat – and cure – President Kennedy of the back pain which had crippled JFK since he was a child (a jealously guarded secret kept from the American public).
Along the way Hans also became the first, in the 1940’s, to realize that American children were not exercising enough, and that unless this changed, the U.S. would experience an alarming outbreak of obesity and other physical and emotional problems. Never someone merely to present a problem, Hans had also developed an arguably surefire and low budget cure.
But when Hans launched his highly publicized fitness campaign in the 1950’s, even though initially embraced by the White House, he was shocked to discover fierce resistance from the two places where he expected it least…and ultimately, from where he was most vulnerable.