I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.EAT. SWEAT. PLAY. by Anna Kessel
Published by Pan Macmillan on 16th June 2016
What does it mean to be a sporty woman in the 21st century? From the launch of Net-A-Sporter, serving up sports clothing for fashionistas, to the introduction of #plankie as the new Instagram selfie for yoga bunnies; exercise for women has finally gone mainstream.
But if sweating has never been so hot for female celebrities, then why are there still so many obstacles for girls and women when it comes to sport? Why do girls still hate school sports lessons? Why is sport consistently defined as male territory, with TV cameras replicating the male gaze as they search out the most beautiful women in the crowd? Will women ever flock to watch football, rugby and boxing in their millions? Or turn up to the park with friends for a Sunday morning kickabout? How long do we have to wait to see the first multi-millionaire female footballer or basketball player?
Many of you know how much I love watching sport – football, F1, athletics – basically I’ll watch any sport with the exception of cricket.
These days I’m stuck in a situation where I can’t exercise; my illness confines me massively. I do those wee exercises that I can, the ones that the physio has given me. Putting my health to one side though, I’ve never been a very sporty person. I once convinced my maths teacher to give me a test I missed rather than run the cross-country! In fairness, she was pretty happy about it, as it meant she didn’t have to marshall in the rain! I was also an expert in getting out of P.E.
Outside of school though, while I might not classify myself as sporty, I was active. I cycled, I attempted to play football (I was never very good but I loved it) and I spent a significant amount of time as a sheepdog, rounding up sheep on the croft! Looking back, I was definitely active even although I hated P.E.
I’ve always been self-conscious though. I’ve never been to a gym – just the thought of it makes me feel ill!
Anyway, why am I sharing this with you? Well, I recently received an email about a book “written for anyone who has given up on sport, or perhaps were made to feel that they would never be ‘sporty’ in the first place”, and I was immediately interested. It sounded fascinating and I can tell you that it really is!
Eat. Sweat. Play. is written by sport’s journalist Anna Kessel. I’ve actually sat here for a while now wondering how best to summarise this book because it encompasses so much that it’s hard to narrow it down! Ok, so, basically, it’s a look at women in sport. Not just the professionals, but you and me too.
Anna looks at the reasons many girls dislike P.E., the reason why as teenagers we may have lost interest in sport and why that is still affecting us as adults today.
She encourages us not to worry about how we look or what others might think, and to MOVE. To enjoy that movement, to embrace it.
Something I’ve always wondered but never voiced is how professional female athletes cope with periods. Kessel discusses this, openly and honestly. She talks to athletes and even doctors with regards to how periods could affect performance. She answers all those questions I’ve often wondered about but never been brave enough to ask.
Kessel continues a look at the female body while discussing exercise throughout pregnancy. She shares her own experiences and draws upon the expertise of others.
But what happens after you’ve had your baby? How do you exercise then? She explores this in detail with suggestions as well as input from other Mums.
One of the areas I found most interesting was her discussion of being a role model as a parent. If your kids see you being ‘active’, they’ll see it as normal and do the same. This made me think of a friend of ours who keeps fit, plays sports and is a Mum. Her three-year-old daughter plays in the house, pretending that she’s going to Metafit class like her Mummy. It truly does have an impact, but until now it’s not something I’d ever really thought about.
Kessel is encouraging and honest. She includes not only her own experiences, including her own heartache, but those of others to motivate us to move.
WOMEN IN SPORT
A further area of great interest to me was her discussions on women’s sport as well as women working within sport. Sport itself is still largely very male dominated, and Kessel shares her own experiences of working in the industry – something I personally found fascinating, given my engineering background.
She also looks at the way top sportswomen are perceived, why they are judged differently from men and how the world of women’s sport is different from men’s in a multitude of ways – finance, medical knowledge, the media, support.
I found this to be a thoroughly eye-opening read. I can’t tell you how much I learned. This is a book you will want to talk about. I genuinely ended up discussing many of the issues in this book with my husband. It’s also a book that will encourage you to have a better relationship with sport and fitness as a whole.