Posted on February 2nd, 2022
By Olivia Baker
In this day and age, it can be easy to take for granted the opportunities that women have to exercise and the greater social acceptance of women doing so for their own physical and mental health. However, this was not always the case even in modern history. Exercise used to be considered "unladylike" and thought to run the risk of causing women to grow mustaches and have their uteruses fall out in the 1950s. Did you know that women weren't allowed to run marathons as recently as 1970 over fears for their safety and that the Olympics didn't sanction a women's marathon until 1984? The sports bra wasn't even invented until 1977. As we read Let's Get Physical by Danielle Friedman, we'll explore the evolution of fitness for women from those early 1950s views to present day through the lens of pioneering women in the exercise industry. Through each chapter and each woman's story, we will learn about the historical twists and turns that created the fitness culture we live in today and further discuss how we can continue to make fitness more accessible to women as not just a privilege, but a right going forward.
Aside from my personal interest in the contemporary history of fitness for women, I chose this book for Runners Who Read because I think you all will really like it, learn a lot (just like I did), and enjoy this opportunity to discuss with an author who is actually part of our book club! I got to meet Danielle and get a sneak preview of this book last year. Back in November when this book club was first formally announced, Danielle reached out to me as a fellow Atlanta Track Club member and runner with deep ties to the Atlanta community about reading this book in our new book club. In December, I had the opportunity to read this book to preview it for book club and was drawn in immediately by the writing style that captures the historical facts of the movements that changed the trajectory of fitness culture while telling the story through the lens' of the women who led them. Each chapter reads like a mini memoir which makes for uniquely thrilling storytelling. I won't give anything away, but I'm really excited for you all to read this book and encourage you to lean into this month's discussion.
1. What are you looking forward to about reading Let's Get Physical?
2. What are some women's fitness fun facts that you'd like to share as we prepare to read?