Muscle Building Mania
THE HISTORY OF BODY BUILDING
Athletes in 11th Century India used to lift carved stone dumbbell weights. These
were called “Nals.” Oddly enough, they were very
much like modern day fitness equipment. It is purported that gymnasiums were
existent in the same time period and by the 16th Century it is said that body
building was one of Indias’ favourite pastimes.
Body building was a mainstay of the athletic subculture of the ancient Greek and
later Roman empires.
North Americans were first introduced to body building through the “strongman”
at travelling circus sideshows and carnivals in the middle of the 19th Century.
The first modern Olympics was held in 1896 where there were two weightlifting
A German named Eugene Sandow is credited with inventing many of the
contemporary body building techniques used even today. He began his
performance with feats of strength even adapting various “poses” that
demonstrated his musculature much as modern day body builders do.
Sandow travelled to London in 1899 and opened his first “Physical Culture
Studio.” A good businessman, he sold products by mail and published his own
magazine. He ultimately created a “chain” of 20 studios throughout England.
Sandow is also credited with the first body building competition. Called the “Great
Competition,” it was held on September 14, 1901. Held at the Royal Albert Hall, it
was a complete sell-out attracting hundreds of spectators and causing an
immense traffic jam. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was one of the 3 judges.
While Sandow was busily creating his studios in England, another legend was
gestating in North America.
Born in the Ozarks in 1868, Bernarr Mc Fadden was frail and sickly as a child. He
learned as a teenager, that he could build health and strength by working
outdoors. By age 25 he was selling exercise equipment and went on to become
an icon in the publishing industry building an empire based on health, fitness,
nutrition and exercise publications.
Branded as eccentric, flamboyant and a “kook,” he remained fit and active up
until his death in 1955. Unfortunately, his own belief in “self treatment” served to
be his undoing waiting too long for treatment of a bladder problem. Many of his
principles are still practiced today and his works appear to be making a