The Most Beautiful Man in the World, A French Physical Culture Documentary Featuring the Legendary Steve Reeves

As Joan Tumblety noted in her work on early twentieth-century physical culture, the French have long displayed an interest and an infinity for exercise. Indeed, on all sides of the political spectrum, French athletes, politicians and schoolteachers have often sought to improve the physical lot of French men and women through purposeful exercise.

For some this took the form of sport while for others, physical culture would prove to be ‘salvation’ of France. The following documentary, entitled ‘The Most Beautiful Man in the World’ sought to demonstrate the importance and practicality of physical culture for the average French citizen.

In the clips shown below we are given numerous types of physical activity, ranging from wrestling and gymnastics to good old fashioned weight lifting. The film, conceived in two parts, documented the bodybuilding contests held at a theatre in Cannes, August 15, and August 16. The August 16th competition, quite significantly, featured a Mr. World competition won by the legendary US bodybuilder Steve Reeves.

On August 23rd, 1948, French movie goers were shown these clips in the hope of stimulating an interest in exercise. For those wishing to see Reeves at the height of his prowess, check out the second video around the three minute mark.

 

The History of Before/After Shots

 

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Today’s fitness market is heavily saturated with amazing before and after photos taken to promote the latest diet, exercise system or piece of equipment. This style of marketing has become so synonymous with the fitness industry that it is difficult to imagine a time when fitness instructors relied solely on their word to promote their wares.

In today’s post we’ll briefly examine two of the earliest before/after photos from the fitness industry. The first, published in the 1860s by a British army instructor was widely circulated in the United Kingdom and Europe while the second, published in the 1880s by an American physical culturist, arguably kickstarted the United State’s obsession with transformation photographs.

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Vince Gironda’s Beginner Bodybuilding Course

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Well known as one of the greatest trainers of his age, Vince Gironda’s name has become synomous with bodybuilding champions from Larry Scott to Arnold Schwarzenegger. Though Gironda made his name producing some of the greatest bodybuilding champions the sport has ever seen, he sent countless hours with beginners and intermediates seeking to sculpt their bodies or build muscle.

Today’s post discusses Vince’s general bodybuilding approach for beginners with the caveat being that Vince was known for changing exercises based on each trainer’s physique. Nevertheless, there is much to learn from his more generic approaches.

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Sandow the Lion Tamer

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Though more synomous with bodybuilding than wrestling, the late 1890s saw Eugen Sandow, the man many credited with possessing the perfect physique, wrestle a caged lion in front of a US audience.

The bout was undertaken during Sandow’s extensive tour of the United States under the tutelage of promoter Florenz Ziegfeld. Perhaps unsurprisingly, many viewed the event as an exercise in futility during which a half dazed lion lazily swiped at the Prussian showman.

Today’s post focuses on the circumstances leading to this bizarre encounter, the fight itself and it’s aftermath, to explore just how far Sandow was willing to go to promote his body and his business.

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A Life in Strength: William Joseph Murray

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Oftentimes this blog has focused exclusively on the star names of the physical culture industry. This, as perhaps can be guessed, is due to the extensive documents such men and women have left behind. The true physical culturists, that is those people who exercised for the joy of it, are much harder to track down.

Luckily, a discussion on a previous article has thrown up a fascinating source on one William Joseph Murray, an English born strongman of considerable interest to those studying the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. A keen athlete, Murray’s life exemplifies several of the trends discussed in previous posts as well as reminding us that fitness is inevitably, a lifelong pursuit.

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Guest Post: Safe exercising after plastic surgery

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Regular exercising is very important for maintaining the overall health and staying fit. Thanks to the exercises, the joints strengthen, the body becomes more flexible and heart health improves. You get both mental and energy boost and relieve stress thanks to the release of toxins. Of course, the physical appearance changes to the better as well. Still, in order for an exercise to work its magic and be beneficial, one has to do it properly and practice safety all the time. This is especially important after some kind of plastic surgery. No matter how much you’re eager to get back into your usual routine, under no circumstances should you jeopardize your health.

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Who is the Best Bodybuilder Ever? An In-Depth Analysis

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The following post comes from the immensely talented Erny Peibst of jackednatural.com. If you’re looking for advice on the best natural supplements to take or simply a review of the latest training trends, I highly recommend it. 

Guys who’ve just hopped on the bodybuilding bandwagon might have heard of legendary names such as Ronnie Colemanand Dorian Yates whispered from the shadows in their local gyms…

But how good really were these guys?

And more importantly…who was the best bodybuilder ever?

If you’ve decided to become a bodybuilder, you owe it to yourself to know who the king of this sport was.

But the answer to this question all depends on how you define the ‘best bodybuilder ever’.

Here’s a few ways to judge who the best bodybuilder of all time is:

  • Who won the most Mr Olympia titles
  • Who’s made the most impact on the sport
  • The most aesthetic guy
  • The biggest and most shredded guy of all

The most Mr Olympia titles – Lee Haney and Ronnie Coleman (8x)

Who had the biggest impact on bodybuilding – Arnold Schwarzenegger. He was the star in Pumping Iron. If you haven’t already seen it, order it off amazon…like straight after you finish reading this article, it’s amazing.

The most aesthetic Mr Olympia – Arnold, Franco Columbo, Frank Zane or Lee Haney.

The biggest & most shredded: Ronnie Coleman or Phil Heath.

So it depends how you interpret the question ‘who is the best bodybuilder ever’.

However, Arnold Schwarzenegger is regarded by many as the greatest ever.

Why?

  • He won 7 Sandow trophies
  • He changed the world’s opinion on bodybuilding; from being disgusted to intrigued.
  • He built one of the greatest physiques of all time. Huge mass with a tiny waist – a look that’s still highly coveted by gym rats to this day (50 years later).

Arnie sounds like a worthy choice to me.

However, for entertainment purposes I’m going to select the top 5 bodybuilders of all time, and put them on stage against each other.

…So you can decide for yourself!

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Alois P. Swoboda’s Conscious Evolution Course

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Though born in Vienna in 1873, Alois P. Swoboda became one of America’s most popular and famous physical culturists of the early twentieth-century. Preaching a system of bodyweight only exercises, Swoboda ran a successful mail-order business for several years, which allowed the Austrian to preach his message of muscle across the United States.

Given the interest on this site in another proponent of bodyweight fitness systems (namely Charles Atlas), it seems only right to feature Swoboda’s famed ‘Conscious Evolution’ fitness manual which emerged in the 1910s.

Though relatively short (only two pages!), Swoboda’s course will no doubt be of interest to those interested in how physical culturists trained at the dawn of the twentieth-century. Furthermore the suggestions made by Swoboda were and continue to be echoed by those in the fitness industry, making his course somewhat timeless.

The course can be found by clicking this link..

As always, happy lifting!

Lies, Snake Oils and Downright Deception: Selling and the Fitness Industry

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The fitness industry, was and is, a notoriously dubious business place. For every honest athlete seeking to help his fellow trainer, there are dozens of genetically blessed individuals who seek to make a living with half-truths.

This chicanery, is however, a time honoured tradition as evidenced by today’s article. Surveying the great names of the physical culture game, today’s post looks at the forerunners to the current market industry and demonstrates how many sought to promote their products over the truth. Unsurprisingly names like Sandow, Sick and Inch all feature.

So if you thought that deceit was a new phenomena in bodybuilding, you are sorely mistaken!

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