Walt Whitman is perhaps best known as the influential 19th-century American poet who caused quite the stir with his sexually-curious poetry collection, Leaves of Grass. But did you know that Walt was also a men’s health and fitness expert?

In 1858, right before the third edition of Leaves of Grass was published, Walt Whitman wrote a series of newspaper columns on “manly health and training.” In order not to spoil his literary name with such gauche undertaking, Walt shared his advice under a pseudonym. So, it took a while for his columns to resurface, over 150 years to be exact.

“Guard your manly power, your health and strength, from all hurts and violations—this is the most sacred charge you will ever have in your keeping.”

Thankfully, if you’ve ever wanted fitness advice from a 19th-century queer poet, here is your chance! His columns have been reprinted in Walt Whitman’s Guide to Manly Health and Training, a new book published this month by Ten Speed Press. Think of it as a “Song of My Self-Help.” LitHub published an excerpt from the introduction written by Walt himself. Notice his signature wit and style.

Manly health! Is there not a kind of charm—a fascinating magic in the words? We fancy we see the look with which the phrase is met by many a young man, strong, alert, vigorous, whose mind has always felt, but never formed in words, the ambition to attain to the perfection of his bodily powers—has realized to himself that all other goods of existence would hardly be goods, in comparison with a perfect body, perfect blood—no morbid humors, no weakness, no impotency or deficiency or bad stuff in him; but all running over with animation and ardor, all marked by herculean strength, suppleness, a clear complexion, and the rich results (which follow such causes) of a laughing voice, a merry song morn and night, a sparkling eye, and a never-happy soul!

Walt Whitman’s columns tackled a lot of subjects with his signature wit and style, from career advice to boxing techniques to beard grooming tips, plus the best diet for achieving a clear skin. Walt even gives his insight on how to walk like a man. Not to mention, the secret to guarding your manly power. Rawr. Back then, drinking and dancing were also considered an important part of “manly health,” so Walt dishes on those subjects, too.Walt Whitman Manly Health

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