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01/01/2011

Prunella Stack, British fitness promoter, dies at 96

January 1, 2011 | 10:58 am

Prunella Stack, an early and enthusiastic promoter of physical fitness for women and hailed as Britain's "perfect girl," has died. She was 96.

Stack died at her home in London on Thursday, her family said. The cause of death was not announced.

Stack was 20 when she took over leadership of the Women's League of Health and Beauty, now known as the Fitness League, after the death of her mother, Mary Bagot Stack, the league's founder.

Part of a wider European movement that promoted exercise for women and staged massive demonstrations of movement, it grew rapidly under her leadership and expanded into Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Hong Kong.

Stack had been a fitness model since the age of 13 and newspapers called her "the perfect girl."

"Brought up as a health and beauty goddess, I was not used to a lack of homage," Stack wrote in her 1973 memoir, "Movement is Life."

Recruiting league members for a public display in London in 1935, Stack declared that she wanted "the youngest, and the oldest, fattest and thinnest, most elementary and most veteran, marching side by side.

"Cut out feelings of shyness of self-consciousness," she exhorted. "They are selfish, fundamentally, and unnecessary."

-- Associated Press

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