Let’s Get Physical: How Women Discovered Exercise and Reshaped the World

Danielle Friedman. Putnam, $27 (352p) ISBN 978-0-593-18842-2
Journalist Friedman takes a jaunt through the history of women’s fitness in her astute and entertaining debut. Beginning in the late 1950s, Friedman introduces Bonnie Prudden, an exercise enthusiast and author of How to Keep Slender and Fit After Thirty, an “instant bestseller” that hit the market in 1961 as America was beginning to “come around to exercise.” Then come the fascinating stories of Lotte Berk, a German Jewish dancer who, after WWII, conceived of a workout called barre for women who “wanted to look like dancers,” and Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to compete in the Boston Marathon in 1967. Meanwhile, at-home fitness evolved: in the 1980s aerobics workouts dominated, largely due to Jane Fonda; the early 2000s saw a boom in yoga thanks to Russian actress Indra Devi; and now, women turn to Instagram for guidance, exemplified by Jessamyn Stanley, who embodies the “twenty-first-century fitness revolution” by focusing on diversity and inclusion. With an emphasis on barrier breakers, business dynamos, and exceptional athletes, Friedman explores how physical training can be a means of personal liberation—Berk, for instance, saw barre as an expression of women’s sexual freedom. This zippy history is bursting with energy. (Jan.)
Reviewed on : 10/08/2021
Release date: 01/04/2022
Genre: Nonfiction
Book - 1 pages - 978-0-593-18843-9
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