People Who Sweat: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Pursuits

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9780151002863: People Who Sweat: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Pursuits
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From weekend warriors to the professional arena, we are a nation obsessed with sports. But what makes an ordinary person an athlete? Is it skill, or simply devotion? To find out, Robin Chotzinoff hit the road in search of people who sweat. Consider the triathalon runner known as "Little Fat Boy," he is world-famous because of his size and his consistency: he's always dead last. Or one political snowboarding champion who founded a snowboard camp for girls only. And many more inspiring "athletes": mall walkers and tree climbers and gym teachers, cancer patients and people who exercise to fill their "God-shaped void." And Robin Chotzinoff herself, after years of "terminal physical mediocrity," finds that it is possible to be athletic without being a good athlete. In the course of her travels she discovers what these people have known all along: that giving your body a chance to exult-whether by hanging ten with geriatric surfers or straining to finish an ultramarathon-is what sport is all about.

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About the Author:

Robin Chotzinoff is a staff writer for Denver's alternative newspaper, Westword, has written for the New Republic and Outside, and is the author of People with Dirty Hands. She has won numerous writing prizes and received a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship. She lives with her husband and two daughters in a log cabin outside Denver.

From Kirkus Reviews:

A lighthearted but insightful investigation of plain folks drive toward athletic activities. Despite the titles resemblance to a Jerry Springer episode (and to Chotzinoffs previous book on garden-mania, People With Dirty Hands, not reviewed), this is a serious inquiry on why the garden-variety amateur, or a person even less athletic than a weekend warrior, would sweat for sports without promise of money or fame. In fact, most of Chotzinoffs noncelebrity subjects (Ted Nugent is known for his music, not his bow-hunting) actually pay for play, lessons, or special camps. Several of them, like a surfing housewife, have to put up with local infamy. The author, herself attracted to unladylike sports, sets out to discover why middle-aged women (her chief target) take up snowboarding, surfing, hunting, dog sledding, or artistic roller skatingsports better suited for hyperactive boys with goatees who wont face a change-of-life crisis for decades. Denver-based journalist Chotzinoff uncovers some truths about the human condition but always delivers them with humor. Large-bodied amateur athletes are termed ``Clydesdales,'' and the mediocre athlete-author concludes her description of an attempt to surf with: ``I end up on shore, both arms bruised, thrilled to the core.'' One ``Bad-at-Gym Girl'' stuns her classmates and proves something to herself by winning a 10K cross-country race in the Senior Olympics. Some of the few men presented here include septuagenarians who walk (never shop) in indoor malls, and a monk who confesses, ``All of us who run marathons know its a masochistic pursuit.'' Others pursue athleticism for the aesthetics, the challenge, the need to be in control, the fear of frumpiness and desire to keep fit, or, especially for those whose cardiovascular systems take them out to confront Nature, the ``contact with something larger.'' All the richer for providing almost as many answers as the author has subjects. -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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