Mary Meta Bagot Stack

(1883—1935) health and fitness expert

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(1883–1935) Born and educated in Dublin, Bagot Stack took a course at Mrs Josef Conn's Institute of Physical Training in London, and trained there as a teacher, moving to Manchester in 1910 and opening her own centre, also teaching groups of factory girls. In 1912, marrying her third cousin who was serving in the Indian army, she moved to India, returning to England after her husband was killed early in World War I. She established the Bagot Stack Health School in 1926, and, most famously, the Women's League of Health and Beauty in 1930. Her Building the Body Beautiful was published in 1931. The League prospered in the 1930s, benefiting from Bagot Stack's entrepreneurial flair and canny targeting of particular groups of women, and her cultivation of the image of her daughter Prunella as a model of physical perfection. Prunella Stack's own autobiography took the league's motto—‘Movement for life’—as its title; and her mother's legacy provided her with her own personal mission. The Stack-inspired philosophy of fitness was also enmeshed with upper-class and far-right conservative racist convictions and values. Some of these views are expressed in an interview with Prunella Stack in Adele Carroll's (1999) documentary This is the League that Jane Joined!: The Early Years of the Women's League of Health and Beauty.

From A Dictionary of Sports Studies in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Sport and Leisure.

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