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Learn About Bechdel’s SECRET TO SUPERHUMAN STRENGTH—While Testing Your Own!

To celebrate our March 16th BABEL author (and exercise guru!) Alison Bechdel, we’ve created a fun, quick at-home workout that will get you moving while we explore a bit of her iconic career!

Bechdel’s latest graphic novel, The Secret to Superhuman Strength, is an homage to the author’s lifelong effort of pushing past boundaries: from her own body’s endurance, to the honing of her craft, to transcending ego.

The book explores six decades of the self oriented by Bechdel’s near-compulsive workout routines and fitness fads: hiking, cycling, martial arts, and Alpine skiing (just to name a few!). We have nothing so strenuous planned for you today, but what better way to dive into Bechdel’s brain than to work out while learning?

Jump into something comfortable and let’s get started!

Safety first! Begin with some light stretches. Get your limbs warmed up while reading this excerpt from the beginning of The Secret to Superhuman Strength. (5 minutes)
Six comic panes from Alison Bechdel's The Secret to Superhuman Strength

Now it’s time to get that heart rate up! Jog in place while watching this interview with Bechdel as she talks about her inspiration for The Secret to Superhuman Strength. (3 minutes)

Do some forward arm circles while watching this video about the Bechdel test, a feminist litmus test to assess the presence of women in movies, inspired by one of her comics and used across academia today. (2 minutes)

Are you feeling it yet? Next up is jumping jacks as you learn about Bechdel’s inspiration for the book cover—you’ll even see her try to do the Archer yoga pose featured on the cover! (3 minutes)

Get out your frustration with a few rounds of air boxing while you watch Bechdel conquer one of her many outdoor activities, slacklining in the snow! (2 minutes)

Keep Bechdel’s dedication in mind as you take on alternating lunges while watching Bechdel talk about drawing cartoons and her MacArthur Fellowship (3 minutes)

Finish your workout strong with a series of squats while you get your BABEL ticket here. Bechdel will be speaking at Kleinhans Music Hall on March 16th—whether you attend in-person or tune in from home, you won’t want to miss it!

Bechdel addresses the idea of ego and its ability to disconnect us from the world throughout The Secret to Superhuman Strength. Unwind from your workout with a quick mountain meditation on letting go of ego. (4 minutes).

Afterwards, consider getting out into nature for a few hours before you cuddle up Buffalo-winter-style and read Bechdel’s superhuman creation, The Secret to Superhuman Strength.

BABEL - Alison Bechdel - The Secret to Superhuman Strength - Just Buffalo Literary Center


The Best Graphic Book of 2021 by Publishers Weekly
A New York Times Best Graphic Novel of 2021
A New York Times Notable Book
An Autostraddle Best Queer Book of the Year
A Boston Globe Best Book of the Year
A St. Louis Post Dispatch Best Book of the Year
NPR, 12 Books NPR Staffers Loved
Shelf Awareness Best Books of 2021