Embrace the Sweat, Have Fun with ‘Let’s Get Physical’ | Way of life

Heavy sigh.

You need to watch your weight.

There it is, the brutal and inescapable truth, now that the holidays are over and the parties are over. You need to shed calories from cookies, shed pounds from cake, melt from flan. Or you have to hide the scale in a closet, find “Let’s Get Physical” by Danielle Friedman, then thank your ancestors for their activities.

Bonnie Prudden was on top of the world.

At 42, she had a new career (on TV!), her daughters were doing well on their own, and Prudden was enjoying a bit of fame doing something she loved: working out.

In the late summer of 1957, Prudden was a real anomaly. Women did not exercise at that time; they were too delicate and, moreover, the exercise had the potential to physically harm a woman. Women’s bodies weren’t made for that. No, the exercise was for men and boys. Period.

But there was Prudden – who was a bit of a rebel – and whose Institute for Physical Fitness (opened in 1954) and televised exercises both intrigued Americans, including politicians who “swore to create a special council to improve the physical condition of the country’s children. “

1960s fashion gave women more impetus to exercise and they learned to like how they felt. Running – another thing women previously avoided – became popular, even though the first woman to run the Boston Marathon was ruthlessly heckled and assaulted, and sports bras became a thing only. in 1977. Title IX gave the girls the chance to be as active and sport-minded as their brothers and boyfriends were. Aerobic dancing caught on and it was fun! Jane Fonda agreed to exercise on video, even though VCRs were rather expensive; women learned weightlifting and strength training, ThighMasters and Buns of Steel; they have adopted various types of yoga for mind and body; and they now know that it’s not the metal in the muscles that’s important, it’s the overall health of the body.

Sit up straight, shoulders back, heinie tucked in. The. This is the ideal position to read “Let’s Get Physical”.

Or you can stretch out on the couch, but you probably won’t want to once you start this fascinating and lively book. Author Danielle Friedman not only offers insight into women’s history, but also a strangely irresistible urge to get moving. Readers will wish they could walk Bonnie Prudden down the streets of Manhattan again, or find a Jazzercise class somewhere. You might even be tempted to fetch your old “Sweatin’ to the Oldies” tapes or the ThighMaster from the attic, because Friedman’s stories of emancipation and enlightenment are highly infectious. It also helps that no weighted tire is left unturned: readers also learn about the role of not-so-modern medicine in fitness, and how black women have often been shut out of the gym altogether.

If you like to stay active and looking back at the places we sweated seems fun, this book will make you very happy. Get “Let’s Get Physical.” You shouldn’t wait.

Reporter’s note: If you want to peek from the other side of the locker room, check out Bill Hayes’ “Sweat: A History of Exercise” (Bloomsbury, $28.00). Hayes takes readers back centuries to see how our physical health became what it is and why we have perceived it as both pain and pleasure over time. It’s a personal and historic look, literally transpiring to oldies.

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