‘Unladylike’ Sweat, Jazzercise and Instagram Workouts: The History of Women’s Fitness in ‘Let’s Get Physical’

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"Let's Get Physical" by Danielle Friedman explores the history of women's fitness from the 1950s to today. (Photo of Danielle Friedman by Lindsay May. Cover photo courtesy of Penguin Random House.)

Jazzercise. The Thighmaster. Jane Fonda’s Workout. These are but a few of the exercise fads that author Danielle Friedman recounts in her new book “Let’s Get Physical,” a history of women and personal fitness. For much of the 20th century, “sweating was considered unladylike and women tried to hide their muscles under sleeves,” writes Friedman. The rise of personal fitness, however, offered women a chance to be strong. Yet, along with its message of strength and individual empowerment, women’s fitness is also caught up in the burdens posed by beauty standards. We’ll talk to Friedman about these contradictions and how the industry can change to “harness exercise in ways that truly liberate all women.”


Danielle Friedman, author, "Let's Get Physical: How Women Discovered Exercise and Reshaped the World."

Latoya Shauntay Snell, founder, Running Fat Chef; motivational speaker; HOKA athlete; content creator