Over the centuries, bodybuilding has evolved from the raw Grecian theatres of the 600 B.C. era, where stone trained athletes such as boxers, wrestlers and strongmen would compete against one another - to modern day physique men, whom science and technology have equipped with the latest state-of-the-art fitness centers and nutritional know-how to create symmetrically flawless muscular physiques. In the 20th century, bodybuilding came of age in America. With its roots as a sideshow attraction to a billion dollar industry, it has branched out to become a staple of the American culture. Today it can be found not only on the physique stage, but in many endeavors of society such as: entertainment, sports, politics, and the medical field. There are endless names who have contributed to the path and development of modern bodybuilding. Here we present a few of the more notable muscle builders and fitness enthusiast who have had a significant influence on the evolution of physical culture in America.
The most famous bodybuilder in the early days of the sport - indeed perhaps the first modern bodybuilder ever, was Eugen Sandow. Beginning his career as a sideshow ‘‘showman’’ early in his life, Sandow’s popularity would grow on a scale of international fame never witnessed before. With the help of a 26 year-old Chicagoan named Florenz Ziefeld; Sandow decided it wasn’t enough to simply demonstrate his strength, but to actually display his muscular physique as though it were a work of art. He would dazzle his audiences with the display and muscle control of his body, and that had not been done by anyone before him. He soon made his ‘‘Muscle Displays’’ the main feature of his stage show. Sandow, in spite of his claims, was not the strongest man in the world, but he was skilled at self-promotion and convincing audiences that he was much stronger than reality could document. Born Friedrich Wilhelm Mueller on April 2, 1867, in Konigsberg, Prussia, he was recognized as the most famous strongman in the world for the first two decades of the 1900’s. Sandow opened his first gym in 1899 at Saint James Street (near Piccadilly Circus), London, and he would later govern about 20 Sandow institutes, thus claiming the first chain of gyms decades ahead of anyone else. He would also publish his own magazine for several years. Sandow became a star in the United States during the mid-1890’s, entertaining thousands of people at the 1983 Chicago World’s Fair. He would continue with his celebrity by touring the country and performing his much acclaimed feats of strength & muscle control exhibitions to sell out crowds. The crowning glory of Sandow’s work in bodybuilding came in 1901 when he organized the world’s first major physique competition, awarding the overall winner with the now famous Sandow statuette, created after his own likeness. The tradition continues today, with winners of the Mr. Olympia receiving a Sandow statuette in recognition of their crowning victory.
Bernarr MacFadden, internationally famous during his lifetime, was often called the ‘‘Father of Physical Culture.’’ He authored many fine articles and books on the positive effects of weight training and how it helped maintain mental health. A bodybuilder from the late 1800’s, MacFadden was to become famous throughout the world as a pioneer in physical culture and muscle building. This fitness and health pioneer was born in the Ozarks in 1868 and had a travelling strength act during the 1890's. MacFadden wound up in England by 1897 and with entrepreneur Hopton Hadley started the first English language fitness magazine: Physical Development. In America he would later publish Physical Culturethen branch out successfully into different genre. MacFadden would travel widely over the years to promote his ideas on fitness and to open several health institutes. Nicknamed ‘‘Body Love MacFadden’’ by Time magazine, he was a flamboyant personality, millionaire publisher, and life-long advocate of physical fitness, natural foods, outdoor exercise, and the natural treatment of disease. MacFadden promoted professional bodybuilding competitions well into the 20th century helping to inspire millions of people around the world to live healthful and vigorous lives. Macfadden, the ever-energetic physical culturist continued to manage his publishing and fitness empire well into his mid-80’s.
Born in 1886, Earle Liederman began his career as a physical culture specialist for the New York Board of Education soon after earning his diploma. While working for the Board of Education, Earle tried his hand at boxing and wrestling, both proving not to be his strong suit. In 1910, he was discovered by a talent scout for a vaudeville chain and soon begun an eight year stint as a strongman; demonstrating his skills in lifting, acrobatics, and physique display. By the mid-1920’s Earle became the undisputed king of the mail-order musclemen, basing his exercise system on the use of a chest expander. Along with the course came a well illustrated booklet titled Muscular Development in which he explained his techniques and philosophy. The book became very popular and throughout the life of the enterprise must have gone through at least 20 editions. After that he turned to radio broadcasting as a successful host for a New Jersey exercise program. Occasionally he would read his own poetry to his mostly female audience. The ladies ate it up. In the 1940’s Liederman came to sunny California, and because of his seductive descriptions of the sun, sand and sea, helped draw hundreds of bodybuilders to the West Coast. So it was in a large part, thanks to him, that California became the bodybuilding capital of the world. In 1945, Earle became editor for Joe Weider’s new publication Muscle Power, and had a breezy style of writing that made him popular with the readers. His ‘‘Lets Gossip’’ column brought everyone up to date with the activities of the West Coast musclemen.
Sigmund Klein was born in what was then Germany (Thorn, West Prussia) on April 2, 1902. His family immigrated to Cleveland, Ohio in 1903. When he was a boy, Sigmund Klein became so fascinated with the strongman Vaudeville shows that came to the theatres in Cleveland, Ohio, that by the age of 17 his body’s muscularity had became quite apparent from the consistent weight training he practiced daily to become like the strongmen he admired. In 1926, Sigmund built a good enough physique to seek out the great Professor Attila in New York City, but the Professor had passed away only a short time before. Instead, he had negotiations with Attila’s widow, and re-opened the Professors recently closed gym. It was a profitable decision both in terms of business, and in love, for Sigmund married the professor’s youngest daughter, as well. He later opened his own studio where he would methodically experiment with gadgets and equipment, as well as different training movements, exercises and systems, discovering what produced the most rapid and best results for building muscle size and definition. Sigmund promoted bodybuilding for half a century in the heart of New York City’s theater district. He inspired and trained thousands of people in his small gym over the years. Klein was a true believer in the power of natural bodybuilding and its relationship towards good health and longevity. We owe Sigmund a debt of gratitude for helping develop the standards and techniques of modern bodybuilding in use today.
George Jowett was born in Bradford, Yorkshire, England, on December 23, 1891. When he was six months old he fell from his mother’s lap landing on a fireplace and irons. As a result he was critically injured and hospitalized several times over the course of the next few years. Indeed, at the age of 8 his parents were told that he would never walk again and that he would not live to be 15. When an uncle took him to see Eugen Sandow, the famous ‘‘Hercules,’’ the young George learned that Sandow too had once been diagnosed as fatally ill. This ignited the boy with hope and desire to follow in the footsteps of this great man. Against the advice of his doctors, the 11 year old George began physical fitness training at the Old Navy Hall in Bridlington, Yorkshire, where the family had moved. At the age of 15, instead of meeting his expected demise, George became the international gymnastic champion in his age group, and by the age of 18 had won several world titles in boxing. He would go on to become ‘‘The Best Developed Man in England’’ and later ‘‘Most Perfect Developed Man’’, these were but two of the four international titles he would win in his lifetime. He also loved to entertain at local fairs – straightening out horse shoes, snapping chains around his body, lifting 550 lbs. off the ground with one finger, and raising a 160 lb. anvil over his head with one hand. In 1923, George had established himself as a well-known writer on physical culture and began teaching physical education in Pittsburgh. From there George moved to Philadelphia, where he founded the Jowett Institute for Physical Culture, later opening offices in New York City. He ran a very successful mail order business selling millions of fitness related booklets and also invented several pieces of exercise equipment including the revolving plate-loading barbell and the coil chest expander. In 1968, at the age of 77 George Jowett was presented with the Molson Trophy in Montreal, honoring him as the man whom had contributed more than anyone in the history of bodybuilding.
In 1921 and 1923 Charles Atlas was crowned ‘‘The Worlds Most Perfectly Developed Man,’’ by Bernarr McFadden who promoted the competition that was held at Madison Square Garden, in New York City. As a boy he was a pale, thin and an often picked on youth. One day while lying on a beach at Coney Island in Brooklyn with his girlfriend, a bully walked up and kicked sand in his face. The girlfriend walked away after the attack and was never seen again, compelling the young man to search for a way to build up his thin body in a rapid way in the privacy of his home. It is said that after visiting a zoo and observing the great cats flex their muscular bodies against the resistance of the cage bars, Charles Atlas realized that this was how the animals were keeping themselves strong. Soon afterward Charles Atlas, born Angelo Charles Siciliano created his own system of resistance training, later marketing his proven methods to the world as ‘‘Dynamic Resistance TM."
Once a 128 pound weakling, Peary Rader built his body up to a solid 220 pounds, and became a Mid-Western heavyweight lifting champion early in the 20th century. In 1935 Peary began publishing ‘‘Iron Man Magazine’’ and demonstrated an uncompromising acceptance of the importance of the power lifts, for both bodybuilders as well as weightlifters. During the 1950’s and early 60’s, Rader became an outspoken advocate for powerlifting as a separate sport. What made his stance on the power lifts particularly important however, was his status within the AAU hierarchy: Rader was well known and respected among weightlifters and powerlifters alike, and his opinions often formed some rather scathing editorials in another of his great magazines, ‘‘Iron Man Lifting News.’’ Peary and his wife Mabel, who was adamant about keeping the sport drug free for women, were truly the first couple of powerlifting. They are the first and only couple to be inducted into the hall of fame in all three sports of physique, weightlifting, and powerlifting.
Bob Hoffman, founder of the York Barbell Company, began lifting weights and making barbells in his oil burner factory in York, Pennsylvania in 1929. Soon weight training became the centerpiece of the conditioning exercises done by the York Oil Burner Athletic Club, which in time became the York Barbell Club. The club, which attracted athletes and musclemen from all over the world to the small town of York, prompted Bob to explore the feasibility of manufacturing a working fitness system. In 1932, Hoffman began to heavily promote the sport of weightlifting through his publication Strength & Health, which became the world’s leading weightlifting and health magazine. Bob coached the United States Weightlifting teams from 1948 to 1964, and was designated the ‘‘Father of World Weightlifting’’ by the International Weightlifting Federation for his contributions to the sport. He also wrote many popular books and articles pertaining to strength training and physique development, and in the early 1950s, introduced a line of nutritional supplements, developing the fitness industries first energy bar in 1966.
The first lady of iron was Abbye Stockton. This princess of Muscle Beach in Santa Monica, California was a pioneer in promoting the benefits of weight training for women in a time when medical wisdom suggested women not lift anything heavier than a cup of tea. She educated women throughout America with her monthly fitness column ‘‘Barbelles’’ in Strength & Health magazine in the 1940’s. During the middle of the century she toured the country with her husband Les, spreading the fitness message trying to convert women to the wonders of weight training. In 1947 she won a major prize of $1,000.00 in a contest sponsored by Bernarr McFadden.
Joe Bonomo was born a Coney Island baby on Christmas day, 1901. As a child he was small and thin, being the brunt of many jokes. The neighborhood nickname ‘‘Toothpicks’’ caused the shy lad much pain and steered him clear from the local sand kickers. One day he met up with a Polish strongman named Ladislaw who chided Joe’s negligible frame and told him that he to could be strong, popular and rich if he would start eating right and exercising. Joe took the advice and never looked back. Through hard work and a positive attitude Joe went from being a toothpick, to a star in football and gymnastics, and eventually a Strongman, befriending every wrestler and muscleman who came through Brooklyn, including the astonishing Sandow and the mighty Charles Atlas, who became his pal and mentor. He learned from the crowds at Coney, what was expected of a star attraction, and soon found himself grappling lions and tigers, leaping off flaming rooftops and doing the impossible for Hollywood directors. He eventually opened his own gym, started the ‘‘Bonomo Turkish Taffy Candy Company,’’ and in the 1940-60’s went on to publish many popular self-help fitness and muscle building books and courses.
Victor "Vic" Tanny (born 1912) was a pioneer in the creation of the modern health club. Mr. Tanny opened his first health club in 1935 in Rochester, his hometown. His innovation was to use bright colors, carpeting and background music, a sharp contrast to the dingy gymnasium typical in that day. But his Rochester effort proved unsuccessful, and he later said New Yorkers were ashamed to admit they wanted to improve their appearance. Prior to the advent of Tanny, gyms had the reputation of being strictly for men, and often of the rougher type at that - sweaty, dirty, and dingy lairs reserved for serious bodybuilders. The Vic Tanny Centers flourished in the 1950s and early to mid-1960s and expanded the field to a new type of customer. Tanny's gyms were modern and inviting in comparison, featuring amenities such as mirrors and carpets, and welcomed both men and women. Tanny's business eventually fell into bankruptcy — a result, analysts said, of over-expansion, poor management, and insufficient capital — and the Vic Tanny Centers were closed or sold. (Among those sold, some retained the Vic Tanny name.) Nonetheless, Tanny's gyms had played a part in the evolution of the all-male gym to the modern fitness club of today. The chain, which was noted for its hard sell in attracting members, at one time included more than 90 clubs in the United States and Canada.
Harold Zinkin was the son of Russian immigrants, who as a young man sculpted his body into a specimen of strength, and grew into a family patriarch and community leader who was generous as well as a successful businessman. Zinkin, who was born in 1922, would go on to win the first Mr. California bodybuilding title in 1941 and become first runner-up at the 1945 Mr. America. As a high school classmate of Joe Gold, he would go on to have a major impact on the weight training community. As a teenager Harold was a regular at Muscle Beach, participating in tumbling and acrobatics with a group of athletes who entertained crowds of onlookers. In 1953, Zinkin moved to Fresno, California and opened several gyms. It was there that he invented the first Universal Gym Machine and training system over several years in the mid- 1950’s. Before this, barbells and dumbbells were the main pieces of training equipment available to athletes and bodybuilders. Zinkin’s Universal Gym Machine was compact, with adjustable weight plates that were easy to use, allowing as many as eight people to work out at one time, exercising different parts of the body. Within a few years it was standard equipment in several gyms, including Vic Tanny’s chain of health clubs. A number of professional football teams worked out on it, and college coaches who needed a way to train 30 athletes at one time would demand one for their athletes to use.
John Grimek was born in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, on June 17, 1910, and began weightlifting at a young age. Grimek was a man out of middle America who, with his great muscular mass, fine structure, masterful posing, and engaging personality, heralded in the modern era of bodybuilding. John Grimek was the only man ever to win the AAU Mr. America twice. Grimek not only displayed a Herculean physique but possessed extreme power, as evidenced when he represented the United States as a weightlifter at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. At 39 years of age and a string of titles, including a Mr. Universe victory in London to his credit, Grimek retired from bodybuilding competition undefeated, beating the stars of the era including the legendary Steve Reeves in one last great competition at the AAU Mr. USA in 1949. In 1985, after 48 years of dedicated service with the York Barbell Company, Grimek retired as associate editor of Strength & Health magazine and as editor in chief of Muscular Development. After he retired, John appeared at many shows as a guest poser. His aura of charisma was such that everyone in the world of physique wanted to meet and get an autograph from him. John Grimek’s philosophy in life was to always keep your focus on good health and to build muscle the old fashioned way, by hard work and dedication.
One of the most opinionated, respected, honest and influential individuals in the sport of bodybuilding was Vince Gironda. Nicknamed ‘‘The Iron Guru’’ Vince was decades ahead of anyone else when it came to proper exercise and nutrition as it related to physique development. Born on November 9, 1917, in Bronx, New York, Gironda is considered by many to be the greatest bodybuilding trainer that ever lived. Vince personally set a standard in the 50’s for definition, shape, and presentation that marked the beginning of the modern bodybuilding era. In the 60’s Vince’s Gym produced more champions than any other gym in the world. Larry Scott, who was the first Mr. Olympia, was a disciple of Vince. So too were many other champions, movie stars, and enthusiast who walked through the door of his gym, or purchased his courses through mail order. For 55 years Vince lived and breathed bodybuilding, establishing methods and principles that are still unsurpassed today. Vince who used to preach that nutrition was 85% bodybuilding was firmly against the use of drugs in the sport. One of the pioneers of the anti-drug movement, he rarely attended bodybuilding competitions calling them ‘‘pharmaceutical conventions.’’
Jack LaLanne was born on September 26, 1914 in San Francisco, California. As a child his addiction to sugar caused him to commit irrational acts of violence towards his family. He was so weak his family physician recommended he be removed from school to rest and regain his strength. Around this time he and his mother attended a lecture by Paul C. Bragg, a nutritionist who told Jack he was a human garbage can. LaLanne turned his life around with a strict diet and exercise. By the age of 18, he was running a home bakery selling healthy breads, and a home gym where he trained policemen and firemen in exercise and weightlifting. Jack LaLanne, often called the ‘‘Godfather of Fitness,’’ has motivated millions of Americans since the 1950’s to get fit and stay healthy. In 1951, he and his wife Elaine brought fitness to millions of homes daily with their popular exercise and fitness TV show. Jack is a pioneer who opened the first modern health spa in the United States in 1936. He has awed generations with his amazing feats of strength; such as tugging a 1000-pound rowboat from Alcatraz Island to San Francisco at age 60 while handcuffed and shackled, and at age seventy battled currents while physically towing seventy boats holding seventy people for a mile and a half across Long Beach Harbor. Jack LaLanne has lectured all over the world, inspiring people to help themselves to a better life, physically, mentally, and morally. In 2005 Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger presented Jack LaLanne with a ‘‘Lifetime Achievement Award’’ for his tremendous contribution towards America’s health and fitness.
The incomparable Steve Reeves began bodybuilding at age sixteen in Ed Yarick’s Gym in Oakland, California. Born in Glasgow, Montana on January 21, 1927, he spent much time in his early years riding horses through the flowing hills of his home state. Intensely competitive, Steve moved to Los Angeles to continue his training at both Vic Tanny’s and Bert Goodrich’s gyms. His mother was a nutritionist, and Steve’s dietary knowledge played a large part in his ripped muscularity at a time when anabolic steroids for muscle building were unheard of. In the late 1950’s Steve Reeves brought his Mr. Universe physique to the silver screen in the Italian produced series Hercules. He was the most popular bodybuilder in the world, inspiring millions of men throughout America to take up weight training so they too would have a Herculean physique. To this day his competitive physique is still considered by many to have been flawless with perfect symmetry and balance. Reeves pioneered the sport of power walking, using lightweights and developing a stride that has raised speed walking to an Olympic level. Always a believer in natural health, Steve Reeves has left a lasting legacy among the countless legions of admires who were inexorably drawn to a healthy and fit lifestyle because of their hero – the only true Hercules.
Throughout the second half of the 20th century, Joe Weider was a primary force in advancing the sport of bodybuilding throughout the world. He accomplished this through magazine publications, sponsorship of physique competitions, and the development, manufacture, and marketing of exercise equipment and nutritional products. Born on November 29, 1922, Joe grew up in a tough neighborhood in Montreal, Canada. His introduction to bodybuilding came when he stumbled across a weightlifting magazine and decided to build his body so he could fend off the neighborhood bullies. After a visit to a metal scrap-yard, he formed two barbells from wheels and axles and began to train at home. When he noticed the results, Joe became convinced that there were more people like him who could benefit from weight training. So at 17, Joe published his first newsletter called ‘‘Your Physique.’’ The successful publication would later evolve into ‘‘Muscle Power’’ in the 50’s, and eventually become ‘‘Muscle & Fitness," the flagship publication of the Weider Health and Fitness Company read in nearly every civilized country in the world. As Joe’s publications continued to flourish, he and his brother Ben brought the International Federation of Bodybuilders (I.F.B.B.) to muscle enthusiast everywhere. By the beginning of the new millennium, 173 National Federations worldwide participated in holding I.F.B.B. competitions.
Benjamin Weider was born on February 1, 1923 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. As a founder and longtime president of the International Federation of Body Builders (I.F.B.B.), Mr. Weider spread the gospel of competitive bodybuilding, which he dreamed might one day become an Olympic sport. While his brother, Joe, concentrated on expanding Weider Health and Fitness, an empire built on muscle magazines, exercise equipment and nutritional supplements, Ben roamed the world, creating branches of his federation in about 180 countries, organizing contests and lobbying a resistant International Olympic Committee. In 1998, the I.O.C. met him halfway by granting bodybuilding provisional status as an Olympic sport. Benjamin Weider was born in Montreal, where his parents had settled after leaving Poland. The family was poor, and he dropped out of school after the seventh grade to work in restaurants and in garment factories. In 1942, he enlisted in the Canadian Army, in which he did intelligence work. In the meantime, Joe, a former 90-pound weakling tired of being picked on by neighborhood bullies, had parlayed his enthusiasm for weight lifting and fitness into a magazine, Your Physique, whose pages became a vehicle for selling exercise equipment. Ben joined the business, and in 1946, the brothers founded the body builders’ federation to sponsor a new style of competition in which contestants, rather than bending iron bars or snapping chains, would lift weights and display their bodies so audiences could appreciate the balance and proportions of their muscular development. Mr. Weider was the president of the organization, now known as the International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness, from its founding until 2006. In 1965, the brothers organized the first Mr. Olympia contest, which was held at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and quickly became the professional counterpart to the Mr. Universe competition. In Mr. Schwarzenegger, whom they called the Austrian Oak, the brothers found their first star. The film “Pumping Iron,” released in 1977, brought the contest and the sport to a general audience. In 1980, the brothers created a competition for women, Ms. Olympia, which generated its own celebrities. Mr. Weider published several books on Napoleon, who, he was convinced, did not die of cancer but at the hands of associates who poisoned him with arsenic. He presented his argument in “The Murder of Napoleon” (1982), written with David Hapgood. He also published a revisionist history, “The Wars Against Napoleon” (2007), written with Gen. Michel Franceschi, which sought to prove that Napoleon, rather than monomaniacally pursuing military glory, waged a defensive struggle on behalf of Enlightenment ideals against reactionary regimes. Less surprisingly, with Robert Kennedy, he wrote “Superpump: Hardcore Women’s Bodybuilding” (1986). “A body is a body is a body,” Mr. Weider once told The Toronto Globe and Mail. “It has muscles, it has blood, it has bones, it can be built.”
Bill Pearl was born on October 30, 1930 in Prineville, Oregon. From an early age Bill Pearl had a burning desire to be strong and well built. One day a friend came over Bill’s house and showed him a wartime copy of ‘‘Strength & Health’’ magazine. Bill could not believe his eyes when he looked through the pages and saw the Herculean physiques. From that moment on Bill knew he had found ‘the way’. He saved up his money and purchased some weights from the York Barbell Company. When the day his hands first touched the weights, little did Bill know that a guiding force inside him would one day bring him to be acclaimed the best-built man in the World. The turning point in Bill’s career came in the 50’s when he joined Leo Stern’s gym in San Diego while stationed there as a member of the U.S. Navy. Under Leo’s supervision Bill pushed himself to higher standards and in 1953 won many physique titles including Mr. America and Mr. Universe. His dominance in the sport would continue throughout the 60’s when he was in constant demand as a guest poser. He also had a fabulous strength act which included blowing up hot water bottles until they would burst, spike bending, chain breaking, and tearing auto plates in half with his bare hands. He was also the most widely traveled Mr. America on record, having made many trips around the world performing in nearly every foreign country, giving posing exhibitions, feats of strength, and lectures on physical fitness. His main theme was always to present himself as a gentleman and a spokesman fitting for the sport of bodybuilding. He appeared before crowds of 25,000 in India, and was the special guest of such distinguished men as J. Paul Getty and other top notables. On September 18, 1971 in a packed auditorium at the famous Victoria Palace in London, Bill Pearl competed in the Mr. Universe one last time challenging the best in the world to try and beat him. At 41 years of age and a body weight of 237 pounds, Bill defeated the best in the world including the legendary Reg Park, Frank Zane and Sergio Oliva, which at the time was astounding for a man who stood less than six feet tall. This would be Bill’s last competition as he was adamantly against the use of drugs in the sport. It thus became a quest to prove to bodybuilders throughout the world that resorting to the dangerous practice of using drugs is not only unnecessary, but in Bill’s opinion ‘‘sheer madness."
Joe Gold was born on March 10, 1922 in Boyle, California. It was Joe Gold, who founded his original Gold’s Gym in 1965 in Venice, Calif., and other body-conscious pioneers of the Muscle Beach era who fostered the nation’s fitness revolution and tapped into that very human desire for eternal youth, for immortality. ‘‘Everybody wants to live forever’’ was the chorus of the theme song in the 1977 bodybuilding documentary ‘‘Pumping Iron.’’ That film made Gold’s Gym famous and starred Joe’s protégé, a young and buff Arnold Schwarzenegger. Although not as well known outside the muscle-mass culture as the iconic gurus Jack LaLanne and Charles Atlas, Gold was just as much a believer. He mentored men such as Schwarzenegger, Zane and Draper, who became legends in their own right as they helped us all become more body-conscious, pushing us closer to our truer, vainer selves. Even though the gyms that bear his name and the branches of World Gyms, which he owned and operated, are more hard-core workout shops than most fitness centers today, they don’t resemble the old-school chalk-and-sweat dungeon, packed with free weights and lifting devices that Gold designed and welded together himself. Joe Gold was a real iron man, who helped carve out a place in the America mainstream for the hard body.
Dan Lurie was born on April 1, 1923 in Brooklyn, New York during the depression and in the height of a blizzard that had struck the metropolitan area. As a teenager he trained to become a Golden Glove fighter but was disallowed to compete because of a heart murmur that was detected by the fight doctors. At 16 years old, he changed his sights and joined the Adonis Health Club where he began to body build with weights. By 1942, Dan had gained enough muscle and definition to compete in the A.A.U. Mr. America where he placed second overall, winning several body part awards along with the title of ‘‘Most Muscular Man in America,’’ which he would be awarded again in 1943 and 44. The original ‘‘Sealtest Muscleman’’ for the ‘‘Big Top Circus Show,’’ Dan was seen every Saturday afternoon for seven year on CBS-TV. Dan Lurie would become a major player in the bodybuilding community in 1965 when he formed the World Bodybuilding Guild (W.B.B.G.), and began publishing the ever popular ‘‘Muscle Training Illustrated’’ (MTI). In 1971, Dan did a cover story in MTI on the steroid abuse throughout the bodybuilding community. For years afterward he would continue to publish a series of informative articles by Dr. Bob Goldman (World Steroid Expert) on the dangers and abuse of steroids and other sport enhancing drugs. Dan, who once ran a chain of health clubs, was also the manufacture of a full line of muscle building equipment and nutritional supplements meeting the needs of bodybuilders everywhere. The W.B.B.G., which promoted local and international physique competitions throughout America, attracted the top physique stars of the day to compete in some of the greatest bodybuilding shows ever held. Dan Lurie also promoted an annual Hall of Fame Dinner to honor the legends of bodybuilding; including such physique stars as Steve Reeves, Bill Pearl, Sigmund Klein, Reg Park, Boyer Coe, Jack LaLanne, and Sergio Oliva among others. Dan, who’s slogan has always been ‘‘HEALTH IS YOUR GREATEST WEALTH,’’ performed 1665 push ups, 1225 parallel dips, and a one handed over head bent arm press with 285lbs. in separate strongman events during his prime.
Chet Yorton was born in 1940. As a young man just out of high school, he was involved in a serious auto accident that left him with multiple injuries including a cut through his left eye and left forearm from his elbow to his wrist. He also suffered a hip dislocation and shattered bones in both thighs. Chet’s leg injuries were so bad that his doctors at the hospital debated about amputating his right leg. But he would not consent to it. Chet ended up having a steel plate put around his right thigh bone and a steel rod inside the femur bone of his left leg. For several months, he was in casts from his hips to toes. While in a wheelchair at the hospital he noticed a set of dumbbells in the corner of a room. Having never touched a weight before his accident, he asked his doctor if using weights would assist his recovery. Seeing this as a faster way to regaining his strength and mobility he began to weight train and in seven months was 55 pounds heavier. After his discharge from the hospital Chet continued to train and within two years competed in a bodybuilding contest for the first time. That was in 1960. Several more years of weight training would help him create a physique good enough to win the IFBB Mr. America and NABBA Amateur Mr. Universe titles in 1966, and the NABBA Pro Mr. Universe in 1975. Chet Yorton's victory at the 1966 NABBA Amateur Mr. Universe contest was one of three ever occasions where someone would place above Arnold Schwarzenegger. This is perhaps what Chet Yorton is best known for, which is unfortunate, because he had a great impact on the sport of bodybuilding. In 1964, four years after he began to lift weights Chet became aware of drugs in the sport from a top bodybuilder who introduced them to him during a workout at a local gym. Yorton was tempted until he talked to a doctor who advised him of the possible side effects that could result from their use. Chet took the doctors words to heart and immediately began a life long crusade speaking out against the use of drugs in bodybuilding. In 1975, Yorton launched the NBA, which stood for ‘‘Natural Bodybuilder’s Association,’’ which was the first federation to test for drug use at all of its competitions. In addition, in 1981 he started a publication titled ‘‘Natural Bodybuilding,’’ which educated the public on the dangers of steroids, while also providing media exposure for bodybuilders who did not use the physique enhancing drugs. Chet Yorton was a visionary who pioneered the sport of natural bodybuilding. Decades ago he saw that bodybuilding was headed in the wrong direction and chose to create a new path for physique artists to follow as they inspired others to embrace this ‘new way of life.’
From 1974 through 1982, Arthur Jones, born November 22, 1926, literally owned the body conditioning business in the United States with his Nautilus Time machines and training principles. He revolutionized sports training and the health club industry with the Nautilus machines unique cam, which was designed to give the trainee a proper line of motion for the specific exercise performed. It allowed for a direct, balanced, full range of automatically variable resistance for positive and negative work…pre-stretching and unlimited speed of movement. Jones, who was against volume training, pushed his belief that high-intensity training, which was training infrequently at maximum overload, would produce the fastest results with the least amount of time spent in the gym. Arthur’s revitalized training principles are still followed religiously by millions as pro bodybuilders Viator, Mentzer, and Yates helped popularize his beliefs by publicly incorporating his concepts into their own training. To date, Nautilus is still the benchmark by which all other exercise equipment companies aspire.
Robert Kennedy was born on April 18, 1938 in Suffolk, England. He was the son of an Austrian father and an English mother, both were school teachers. Kennedy attended Culford School and Norwich Arts Centre in Norfolk, England. In 1967, after living in London and teaching art at the Tottenham Technical College for eight years, he moved to Canada, where he taught art in Brampton, Ontario. In 1972, Kennedy went into business for himself, selling courses of instruction by mail on nutrition, bodybuilding, and fitness. In 1974, he started his first magazine, MuscleMag International, with an initial print run of 110,000. He had no previous experience with magazine publishing, but, through his hard work and dedication, the magazine flourished and continues to be published today. Bob was also an avid and accomplished photographer who discovered many fitness models/WWE stars/bodybuilding personalities/health and fitness experts and celebrities. He loved painting and painted many works of art under his fathers name Wolfgang Kals. Kennedy is credited in the bodybuilding world for coining the term "Hardcore Bodybuilding" after publishing the book under the same name. In addition to MuscleMag International, Kennedy has also written 55 books, including several New York Times bestsellers; Hardcore Bodybuilding, Reps!, RockHard!, Beef It!, and Pumping Up! He eventually decided to become a book publisher himself, and under Robert Kennedy Publishing, the company has published hundreds of books. In the 1990s, Kennedy opened 26 fitness stores and licensed several franchises, while also creating a fitness clothing line. Robert Kennedy’s life’s work, dedication, and impact on bodybuilding, health, and fitness have been a source of inspiration to millions of people worldwide.
1n 1974 Charles Gaines and George Butler wrote the documentary ‘‘Pumping Iron,’’ which examined the sub-culture sport of competitive bodybuilding. Throughout its pages readers would experience first hand the dedicated lives of the sports top personalities. The book, which became an instant best seller and introduced names such as Schwarzenegger, Franco and Zane to a curious public, came to life on the silver screen in 1977. In an unprecedented event, bodybuilders throughout the nation united as one to go see their heroes lift steel, plot strategies and flex their muscular physiques under the steamy spotlights. In what seemed to be an overnight evolution the cult world of bodybuilding went from being viewed as a freak show by some, to a respected sport recognized on an international level. The film, which launched one man’s multi-million dollar career and changed the world of bodybuilding and weight training forever, inspired generations on a quest towards physical perfection.
In 1976, the fitness industry got a big boost from the Hollywood blockbuster ROCKY. Although Sylvester Stallone was not a bodybuilder in the competitive sense, his physical transformation has been well documented on the silver screen. Born on July, 6, 1946, Stallone went from a bulky boxer to a lean, mean, muscular fighting machine by intensely training with free weights to develop a physique worthy of his peers’ praise. His determination and will was evident in the characters he played and this generated into motivating his fans to believe that they too could go the distance and achieve their goals no matter how difficult the road ahead. From the mid 1970’s to the turn of the century, millions of men from all across America have joined fitness centers with the sheer desire to build a physique similar to their fighting hero. Today, Sylvester Stallone continues to be an inspiration to many that strive to improve their physical prowess, willpower and determination.
A former Mr. Universe, Lou Ferrigno was born on November 9, 1951. Ferrigno got the break of a lifetime when he was cast as the raging, green-tinted creature in the ‘‘Incredible Hulk,’’ which aired on television from 1978-1982. Long before Arnold Schwarzenegger became a household name, Ferrigno’s massive physique was seen weekly by millions of TV viewers throughout the land. Never before had Americans been exposed to a top bodybuilding champion on such a regular basis. Many TV viewers believed that Ferrigno was wearing some sort of costume, or that it was some kind of trick photography, not believing that anyone could posses such muscular mass. In the late 70’s the legendary bodybuilder also helped crack the ‘‘muscle-bound’’ myth, when he successfully competed in ‘‘The Superstars,’’ a multi week televised athletic event featuring the greatest sports celebrities of the era.
Arnold Schwarzenegger was born on July 30, 1947 in Thal, Austria. A bodybuilding phenomenon with a hunger to succeed, Arnold would win his first Mr. Universe title at the age of 20. In 1968, he relocated to Santa Monica, California and within a year became the most popular and charismatic bodybuilder in the sport. His dominance and influence throughout the bodybuilding world has been unparalleled ever since. The seven time Mr. Olympia was the focus of attention in the 1977 ground breaking cult movie ‘‘Pumping Iron,’’ which documented his 1975 Mr. Olympia victory. Schwarzenegger’s vaulting bodybuilding success came at a time when the world began to take greater cognizance of individual effort in sport. Arnold was the visual embodiment of the human desire to excel. He wore his massive muscles like a badge of honor and trained openly and purposefully for all to see. After retirement from competition in 1980, Schwarzenegger, the star of ‘‘Conan the Barbarian’’ and ‘‘Terminator,’’ went on to make a string of hits, becoming the #1 box office movie attraction in the world. But Arnold had more fields to plow, including successful investments in real estate, restaurants, books, and heading the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sport. He also busied himself with charitable undertakings, such as the Special Olympics and many inner-city projects. In 1983 he became an American citizen and in 1986 married Maria Shriver, niece of former President John F. Kennedy. In 2003 Arnold Schwarzenegger threw his hat into the political ring and became Governor of California, the golden state that he has called home since 1968.
Doris Barrilleaux is one of the founders of weight training for women and its promotion to the masses. For that, she has been affectionately dubbed the First Lady of Bodybuilding. Doris began weight training in 1955 after having four children. In 1963 ‘‘Strength & Health’’ published a photograph of her which led to a steady correspondence with the magazine’s editor, John Grimek. Her interest in physique development would carry into 1977 when she began photographing bodybuilding competitions. The following year John Grimek encouraged her to compete in one of the first women’s bodybuilding competitions to be held at a WMCA in Canton, Ohio. Although the show was amaturest at best, it would lead to her guest posing at several local shows in her home state of Florida; while also gaining much needed media exposure in the Tampa Tribune. At 47, Doris was in great shape for a women of her times. Whenever she posed on stage, Doris would perform to the song ‘‘I Am Women’’ so as not to intimidate the men. In 1978, Doris helped form the Superior Physique Association (SPA), where she spent countless hours contacting gyms, the media, and all the women she could find. The result was the Ms. Brandon Physique competition on April 29, 1979. The show had 13 contestants including Doris, who even cooked for 50 enthusiastic people at a party following the show. As women’s bodybuilding evolved, Doris became a spokeswomen traveling worldwide to judge, photograph, and promote the sport she loved. Eventually, the bodybuilder, promoter, trainer, and author was elected chairwomen of the International Federation of Body Builders (I.F.B.B.) in 1980. She would go on to help create the American Federation of Women Bodybuilders (AFWB), and become the informative women’s editor of Dan Lurie’s ‘‘Muscle Training Illustrated’’ (MTI). Perhaps Anthony Serafinin in ‘‘The Muscle Book’’ gave the greatest tribute to Doris. He wrote ‘‘if Schwarzenegger and Colombu are the crown princes of male bodybuilding, then Doris Barrilleaux merits the same status for the fairer sex. With an intellect like Curie and a physique like Aphrodite, she has single-handedly transformed the exciting new sport of women’s bodybuilding from something of an oddity to a respected and growing phenomenon." Doris Barrilleaux, the First Lady of Bodybuilding, was inducted into the National Fitness Hall of Fame in a ceremony that took place on March 5, 2011 as part of the Arnold Sports Festival.
Lisa Lyon competed only once in her brief bodybuilding career, but what she lacked in competitive longevity, she more than made up for in helping the women’s side of the sport gain initial media attention. Lyon studied art at the University of California in Los Angeles and became accomplished in kendo, the Japanese art of fencing. It was her need of added upper-body strength for kendo that brought her to weight training and eventually, bodybuilding. After winning the first IFBB Women’s World Pro Bodybuilding Championships in Los Angeles on June 16, 1979, Lisa Lyon gave the slowly growing sport of women’s bodybuilding a big boost by immediately becoming a one-woman media-relations activist on behalf of the sport. She appeared in all the bodybuilding publications of the time and was featured in many magazines outside the world of fitness and muscle. She made the rounds on the television talk shows and wrote a book on weight training for women titled ‘‘Lisa Lyon’s Body Magic,’’ which was published in 1981. Although Lyon briefly served as unofficial chairperson for women’s bodybuilding in its infancy, her fondest desire was to explore bodybuilding as an artistic medium.
Rachel McLish, proclaimed by Muscle and Fitness Magazine as “The woman who started it all” is America’s women's bodybuilding fitness icon.The First Ms. Olympia, World Champion Bodybuilder, actor, body wear designer, and author, is dedicated to fitness and nutrition as is evident in her first two books, Flex Appeal, by Rachel, which addresses all aspects of health, fitness and proper weight training; and Perfect Parts, a comprehensive, yet simple approach to getting in great shape with an emphasis on spot toning every part of the body. Both books debuted on the New York Times bestseller list. Born on June 21, 1958, Rachel McLish’s breakthrough victories, together with her attractive features, created a whirlwind of media attention that still recognizes her as one of the sports top personalities. Her fame and visual appeal have made her a regular guest on many top rated national television and radio programs. She has been featured on over 70 magazine covers worldwide and has starred in the films Pumping Iron II: The Women, Ravenhawk, and Aces: Iron Eagle III. Rachel has also hosted and starred in the prime time CBS special “Woman of the 20th Century” and her exercise video for New Line Cinema, “In Shape with Rachel” debuted at #3 on the national video charts, and continues to sell strongly. Ms. McLish also created “The Body Co” line of active wear for K-MART (with over 72m in annual sales, according to Women’s Wear Daily)and has received numerous honors including the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Federation of Bodybuilding, one of the largest and most powerful sports federations in the world with over 169 member nations. She is also a member of the Chancellor’s Circle at the University of Texas for her generous donation and support of her alma mater, The University of Texas, Pan American. On Labor Day of 2006, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger presented Rachel Mclish with the World Gym Hall of Fame Award for her contributions to the sport of bodybuilding. The following year found Rachel honored again, this time with her “star” placed on the Venice Muscle Beach Star Walk of Fame. Having the unique distinction of being the first-ever national, Ms. Olympia and international female bodybuilding champion; with a Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition and Physical Education and continued higher education in Exercise Physiology and related studies to her credit, Rachel McLish remains a highly sought-after personality to lecture on fitness, diet, beauty, youth maintenance, vitality, and faith. Her timeless message, punctuated with her unique perspective and classic beauty continues to sell out audiences wherever she appears.
Jane Fonda (born Lady Jayne Seymour Fonda; December 21, 1937) is an American actress, writer, former fashion model, and fitness guru. For many years, Fonda was a ballet enthusiast, but – after fracturing her foot while filming The China Syndrome – she was no longer able to participate. To compensate, she began actively participating in aerobics and strengthening exercises under the direction of Leni Cazden. The Leni Workout became the Jane Fonda Workout and thus began a second career for her, which continued for many years. This was considered one of the influences that started the fitness craze among baby boomers who were then approaching middle age. In 1982, Fonda released her first exercise video, titled Jane Fonda's Workout, inspired by her best-selling book, Jane Fonda's Workout Book. The Jane Fonda's Workout video eventually sold 17 million copies: more than any other home video. The video's release led many people to buy the then-new VCR in order to watch and perform the workout in the privacy and convenience of their own homes. Eventually, many of these home trainees would find themselves migrating to their local gyms and health clubs, which in turn helped fuel the growth of the bodybuilding/fitness industry. Fonda subsequently released 23 workout videos, five workout books and thirteen audio programs, through 1995. After a fifteen-year hiatus, she released two new fitness videos on DVD in 2010, aiming at an older audience.
During her competitive bodybuilding career in the 1980’s Cory Everson reigned supreme. Her dominance in the sport would raise the popularity of women’s bodybuilding to heights never seen before or afterward. Born on January 4, 1959, she became a prime force in women’s bodybuilding, both in terms of contest results and as a spokesperson for presenting the sport to a wider public. An outstanding track and field athlete from the University of Wisconsin, Cory dominated the physique stage with six consecutive Ms. Olympia titles. Her unique physique, bubbling personality and overall athleticism led to tremendous media interest internationally as well as in the United States. After her retirement from competition, Cory remained in the spotlight with numerous television and movie roles, as well as a daily exercise show.
Since the early days of physical culture, modern man has been searching for the elusive ‘‘Fountain of Youth.’’ The promise of radiant health, enduring strength and a Herculean physique has drawn millions on this quest for physical perfection. Through the early decades of bodybuilding, the forefathers of physical culture established basic guidelines for the muscle enthusiast to follow. Natural foods, resistance training, plenty of rest, and a positive outlook in life were the primary ingredients for achieving ones goals. The demand for knowledge on ‘how to’ reach the stars would result in millions of booklets being sold by mail order, while magazine stands and bookshelves were continually restocked with the latest ‘muscle building secrets’. Tons of steel and exercise equipment would find its way into the homes of thousands of Americans all across our nation. Health clubs and iron gyms would sprout up in local neighborhoods and towns, while physique competitions were held to determine whom the best in the land was. The strong roots of physical culture were taking grip in our society, and the mighty oak of bodybuilding would soon branch out through every city in America.
A new ‘way of life’ became a reality for many as the ‘body beautiful’ movement swung into high gear. For decades the much traveled road to Muscledom kept its promise, then by the mid-60’s what seemed pure and natural took a wrong turn setting the course of modern bodybuilding down a dead end. The introduction of anabolic steroids into the sport of bodybuilding would usher in a new era of super sized and equally strong muscular physiques that would attract millions of young men with a desire to achieve the same naturally unattainable goals. Along with the growth of the sport, the physiques continued to become bigger and more vascular as bodybuilders experimented with ‘stacking’ the latest in designer muscle enhancing pharmaceuticals. Magazine and ticket sales were at a peak and bodybuilding competitions were seen regularly on network TV.
The popularity of the sport was soaring high. Then, what could have been mostly prevented by not promoting and rewarding individuals whose physiques were chemically altered became a reality as the widespread use of drugs in the sport became relevant. Words such as steroids, cycling, and growth hormones became common place in our gyms, and juicing no longer meant enjoying your favorite health drink. Reports of bodybuilders on dialysis and heart transplants became a frequent occurrence while the eventual death of several competitive pros hit home hard. What had been a dark cloud in a sport with such great potential turned into a storm that spread its vast shadow on a culture that once shined. Organizations dedicated to natural bodybuilding and a healthy lifestyle would soon respond to the call for a return to the ideals set forth by the forefathers of physical culture. Physique promoters throughout the land created natural bodybuilding competitions so athletes could compete on a level playing field without running the risk of ruining their health. Publications featuring natural bodybuilders began to spread the gospel of healthy living through proper nutrition and exercise. The televised media developed new bodybuilding and fitness programs to inspire future generations of natural iron pumpers. And as the age of cyber space came upon us, the Internet became a resource of concepts and opinions for bodybuilders to learn and express their views with other physique artist throughout the World. The new millennium is here and those dedicated to physical culture have begun to prevail as the radiant beacon of light from the torch of natural living begins to shine through the storm.
Mario Strong: Reflections of a Natural Bodybuilder
By Mario Strong
The embodiment of personal responsibility, discipline, and commitment to a life built on the foundations of optimal wellbeing and impressive corporal aesthetics. Mario Strong's book, Reflections of a Natural Bodybuilder, tells the story of a man's life, his trials, disappointments and inspiring successes in the pursuit of becoming a champion in the field of bodybuilding, a sport that later had to have "Natural" preface the name to differentiate it from the drugs that came to soften its chiseled and Herculean image.
This compelling book explores how Mario Strong implements his passion for bodybuilding to achieve his quest of health, strength, and longevity. However, his path towards accomplishing these goals is seen not without obstacles as he chronicles his unique history in a sport filled with nostalgia, hope, humor, ego, deceit, pharmaceuticals, pain, and death.
Reflections of a Natural Bodybuilder also features tons of beneficial advice. From muscle-building workouts to fat-loss programs, you will find its in-depth bodybuilding guide not only informative, but also entertaining and inspirational as well. Included are detailed topics on assessing your individual genetic potential, anatomy, nutrition, recuperation, positive thinking, exercise physiology, longevity, steroids, and much, much more. This fully illustrated book is a must read for the layman and athlete alike!
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