Training the Body : Perspectives from Religion, Physical Culture and Sport book cover
1st Edition

Training the Body
Perspectives from Religion, Physical Culture and Sport

ISBN 9781032123301
Published May 13, 2022 by Routledge
248 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This is the first book to examine the body in training in the context of religion, sport and wider physical culture, offering important insight into the performative, social, cultural and gendered aspects of somatic discipline and exercise. 

The book presents a series of fascinating thematic and case-study led chapters from around the world, examining topics including the martial discipline and symbolism of artistic gymnastics; religious interpretations of body vulnerability in the context of marathons; the religious language of corporeal training in sport and martial arts. Drawing on multi-disciplinary perspectives, from sport, religion, history and philosophy, the book explores the often contested and sometimes over-zealous application of training in both sport and religion and the ways in which this can cause harm to athletes or adherents. 

This is fascinating reading for any advanced student or researcher with an interest in the body, physical cultural studies, the ethics and philosophy of sport, the sociology of sport, religious studies, Asian studies or philosophy.

Table of Contents


Part I: Personhood 

1          ‘Giving the Best of Yourself’ in Sports: The Catholic Church’s Attention to Sports in Past and Present

            Dries Vanysacker 

2          Holy Marathon – ‘Running Religion’?: Religious Interpretations of Body Vulnerability in the Context of Marathons

            Kristin Graff-Kallevåg and Sturla J. Stålsett 

3          Gaining Balance in Religious Training: What Might Sports and Physical Culture Coaches Learn from This?

            David Torevell

Part II: Virtue 

4          Corporeal Enhancement and Sport’s Spiritual Dimension: A Virtue Ethics Proposal

            Tracy J. Trothen 

5          Training the Body (Stretching the Mind) and Moulding the Spirit: Sport, Christian Asceticism and Life as Self-Gift

            Paul Rowan 

6          Towards an A to Z of Faith in Sport

            Simon Lee 

Part III: Asceticism and Aesthetics 

7          Aesthetics and Symbolism in Artistic Gymnastics: From Martial Discipline to Ritual Practices Embodied in Performance 

            Clive Palmer 

8          The Metaphysical Framework of Transformational Combat in Eastern Religions and Martial Arts: Implications for Sports and Physical Culture Training

            David Torevell 

Part IV: Education, Gender and Mental Health 

9          On the Bodies of Children: The Troubling Messages of American Youth Sports

            Annie Blazer 

10        Jewish Women and Physical Culture Training at Various Jewish Ys in Early Twentieth-Century American Culture 

            Linda J. Borish 

11        Promoting Western sport and PE ideas in China: Lessons Learned and Future Directions 

            David Grecic 

Concluding Remarks: Making Connections 

Questions for Discussion and Reflection

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David Torevell is Honorary Senior Research Fellow at Liverpool Hope University, UK, and Visiting Professor at Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick, Ireland. He was previously Honorary Research Fellow at Leeds Trinity University, UK, and taught in secondary schools for 17 years. He has edited many books and published numerous articles in international journals on a range of theological, philosophical and educational issues. His research interests include Catholic theology, philosophy, theology and literature, theology and the arts, sport and religion and Catholic education. 

Clive Palmer is Senior Lecturer in the School of Sport and Health Sciences at the University of Central Lancashire, UK, and Senior Research Fellow in UCLan’s THRiVE Research Centre for Early Years, implementing a coaching pedagogy into Midwifery training – a national workforce development enterprise. Also, he is National Teaching Fellow (2019), Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (2020) and Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Qualitative Research in Sports Studies. He is a nationally recognised research supervisor through the UK Council for Graduate Education and Visiting Professor to Hunan Normal University in Changsha Province, China, contributing to a Sino-British Educational Project in PE. 

Paul Rowan has been a diocesan priest of the Archdiocese of Liverpool, UK, since 1995, and is currently working in the diocese of Portsmouth, UK. He is Assistant Head and Director of Catholic Life and Formation, Young People and Skills at Beaulieu Convent School, Jersey. He is also the Director of the Beaulieu Institute for Religious Literacy. He has taught theology, philosophy, ethics and religious studies at primary, secondary and tertiary levels, worked in three Catholic seminaries and in secular and pontifical universities in England, Spain and Rome. His research interests include Belief and Unbelief; the New Evangelisation; G. K. Chesterton; C. S. Lewis; Power, Abuse and the Catholic Hierarchy; LGBT+; Women in the Catholic Church; the writings of Pope Francis.


'A fresh and very important new book. By focusing on the place of the body, the authors have brilliantly managed to reveal that sport is no mere corporeal activity. It is clear that this book has been crafted in such a way as to open up further discourse and debate, and to stimulate new ways of conceiving the familiar. I have little doubt that this work will energise others to expand our understanding of sport and its relationship to religion, and help open up new insights into the broader topic of sport and spirituality. And if this can begin to influence how we do sport, how it is practiced and played in the lived world beyond academic debate and theorising, the authors will have provided us with a great and much needed service.'

Dr Mark Stephen Nesti, Sportinspirit Limited, UK