The history of women’s fitness is inspiring, and complex

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A female marathoner is kicked off the road by an angry race organizer. A social dancer. Yogi is a public access television. The history of women’s exercise is filled with colorful characters, and these are some of the pioneers who helped make the women’s fitness industry what it is today.

In the latest installment Good + Good podcastsYou will meet Daniel Friedman, the author of Let’s Get Physical: How Women Invented Exercise and Reshaped the World. After taking a barre class and wondering how the unique exercise form began, Friedman discovered that no one had yet told the story of how our modern fitness landscape came to be. For example, how did the world go from being afraid that running would cause a woman’s uterus to fall out (yes, really!!), to regularly attending Barry’s class?

Friedman explains that the exercise boom that began with Bonnie Pruden in the 1950s dispelled the myth that women weren’t, or shouldn’t be, strong. It continued with Lotte Burke and barre, Catherine Switzer and running, aerobics, jazzercise, Jane Fonda and a series of subsequent trends. But with the explosion of women’s fitness has come fat-phobic beauty standards and increasingly unattainable ideals for our physical appearance. Friedman is hopeful that social media can help reform our relationship with exercise by promoting more diverse voices, which the fitness industry has historically marginalized, such as yogi and author Jessamyn Stanley.

Listen to the full episode here:

It’s time we learned about the people and movements that have had the biggest impact on how we move our bodies today. Listen to the podcast to discover more about the forces of good and evil that make us work, the impact of the pandemic on exercise, where we are today and more.

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