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A History of Exercise

Bill Hayes



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18 January 2022
'I was riveted by Sweat and its extraordinary tale of the ups and downs of exercise over millennia' Jane Fonda
'A delight ... You're in for a treat' Alison Bechdel, author of The Secret to Superhuman Strength

From the author of Insomniac City 'who can tackle just about any subject in book form, and make you glad he did' (San Francisco Chronicle): a cultural, scientific, literary, and personal history of exercise Exercise is our modern obsession, and we have the fancy workout gear and fads to prove it. Exercise - a form of physical activity distinct from sports, play, or athletics - was an ancient obsession, too, but as a chapter in human history, it's been largely overlooked. In Sweat, Bill Hayes runs, jogs, swims, spins, walks, bikes, boxes, lifts, sweats, and downward-dogs his way through the origins of different forms of exercise, chronicling how they have evolved over time, and dissecting the dynamics of human movement.

Hippocrates, Plato, Galen, Susan B. Anthony, Jack LaLanne, and Jane Fonda, among many others, make appearances in Sweat, but chief among the historical figures is Girolamo Mercuriale, a Renaissance-era Italian physician who aimed singlehandedly to revive the ancient Greek art of exercising through his 1569 book De arte gymnastica. In the pages of Sweat, Mercuriale and his illustrated treatise are vividly brought back to life. asHayes ties his own personal experience to the cultural and scientific history of exercise, from ancient times to the present day, he gives us a new way to understand its place in our lives in the 21st century.
Imprint:   Bloomsbury
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 234mm,  Width: 153mm, 
Weight:   420g
ISBN:   9781526638397
ISBN 10:   1526638398
Pages:   256
Publication Date:  
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

The recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in nonfiction, Bill Hayes is a frequent contributor to the New York Times and the author of five books. His writing has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Review of Books, and the Guardian. Hayes is also a photographer, with credits including the New Yorker, Vanity Fair, and the New York Times. He has published two collections of photography, How New York Breaks Your Heart and, in 2020, How We Live Now: Scenes from the Pandemic. In addition, he has served as co-editor of his late partner Oliver Sacks's posthumous books.

Reviews for Sweat: A History of Exercise

I was riveted by Sweat and its extraordinary tale of the ups and downs of exercise over millennia. Who knew? -- Jane Fonda Perhaps because exercise is such a universal - and universally humbling - part of our lives, Sweat does, seemingly effortlessly, what all good history books should do: take the past and make it vastly more human * The Times * There's a skip to Hayes' step throughout, and the book will certainly ground any January health kick in a grander context * Daily Mail * As a storyteller, Hayes is like Joe Frazier ... I would have liked this book to go on longer. Erudite, ludic, eccentric, energetic and historically transporting, it's like falling through a gym and landing in a joust -- Zoe Williams * Guardian * Bill Hayes' peripatetic inquiry into the history of exercise is a delight ... You're in for a treat. Hayes weaves his riveting findings in the archives with a revelatory memoir of physical exertion that begins to answer that most human of questions: what does the body mean? -- Alison Bechdel, author of 'The Secret to Superhuman Strength' Charming and idiosyncratic ... A distinctive, often moving blend of historical and memoirist writing ... Hayes's exuberant book tells us what awaits if we can only make it so * NEW YORKER * One of a number of titles that promise to take a serious look at exercise * Financial Times, Books of the Year 2022 * Charming and compelling ... Among the pleasures of Sweat, Bill Hayes's idiosyncratic and delightful history of exercise, is learning about the sweat lives of the great and good * The Critic * Hayes fascinatingly traces exercise's gradual evolution into the multibillion-pound industry it is now - by way of some genuine scientific breakthroughs and several passing crazes * Readers' Digest * A lovely weave of memory and science, great characters and compassionate humor. You will love it for its wisdom and wonderful writing -- Anne Lamott Like the most rewarding kind of travel writer, Bill Hayes is both informative and personal as he takes us through the borderlands ... I'm grateful for the way this intimate, reflective, and factual guidebook captures the feeling of that terrain -- Robert Pinsky Playful and powerful ... profoundly moving ... Hayes writes with so much panache that reading this book is thrilling * Boston Globe * Bill Hayes has an unusual set of skills ... He is part science writer, part memoirist, part culture explainer * New York Times * A beguiling brew of fascinating scientific facts and illuminating, poignant anecdotes ... vital and pulsing with energy. * Entertainment Weekly * Exquisitely wrought, heartrending and joyous -- Joyce Carol Oates Like Patti Smith's haunting M Train, Hayes' book weaves seemingly disparate threads of memory into a kind of sanctuary - a secret place where one can shake off the treasured relics of past lives and prepare to be reborn anew * San Francisco Chronicle * Hayes's work is resoundingly about life - about being wide awake to possibility, to the beauty of every fleeting moment * * Taking us through the different forms of exercise and their origins, Hayes gives a cultural, scientific and personal history of human movement * Irish Independent, Books of the Year 2022 * All laud and honor to Hayes * Washington Post * He is, in his photos and writings, the great poet of the everyday -- Edmund White A sweeping inquiry into the sometimes converging, sometimes colliding worlds of psychology, medicine, mythology, aging, and mental health -- Maria Popova Memoir, history, and science come together and apart again in a book that reads very much like a dream, switching genre and subject with a beautiful logic of its own, illuminated now and then with flashes of gorgeous insight ... Read this one and savour it * Out *

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