Bill Hayes is the author of numerous non-fiction works, including: Five Quarts: A Personal and Natural History of Blood (2005), The Anatomist: A True Story of Gray’s Anatomy (2007), and Insomniac City: New York, Oliver and Me (2017); the latter is an account of moving to New York City in middle age and finding love with acclaimed neurologist and author Oliver Sacks, Hayes’ partner until Sacks’ death from cancer in 2015. His 2020 book, How we live now: scenes from the pandemiccontains Hayes’ photographs of New York during the pandemic.

Hayes’ latest work is Sweat: a history of exercise (Bloomsbury, Jan. 18). Here he weaves his own passion for exercise through the story—his father was a West Point graduate who taught him swimming, snow skiing, and ball games—and looks back through history to establish how human understanding of exercise, and its value, has evolved. have evolved over the centuries.

From Kirkus’s review by Sweat: “A successful freelance author, journalist, photographer and editor, the author is not shy about describing his lifelong preoccupation with running, gym training and aerobics, with diversions to boxing, swimming and cycling… This book is largely a record of the the author’s travels around the world, visiting libraries and interviewing scholars and scientists or simply people he met along the way, recounting the history of sports and how he continued his daily workouts despite the often primitive local amenities, and excerpts from episodes his past more or less related to active life. Fittingly, he ends at the Olympia site in Greece. An entertaining mishmash of autobiography, travelogue and history.”

In this video interview conducted via Zoom, Hayes discusses his original inspiration for: Sweat, thought – where else? – on a treadmill in the gym; the importance of libraries in his research; the crucial discovery of a 16e century book, The art of gymnastics† the attitudes of the ancient Greeks and Romans to exercise and health; and its own arrangement of the ideal forms of exercise.