Category: Basics

Vince Gironda, ‘The Mental State’, The Gironda Master Series Vol. I

The Zen masters, Hatha Yoga and Judo, teach us that the human race of today has lost all trace of an instinctive wisdom of the body. But I disagree in part. I have observed many […]

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Wrestling and Weightlifting: The WWF and Fitness in the 1980s

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I’ll admit it, although born in the early 1990s, I was a Hulkamaniac. Aside from growing up during the WWF attitude era, where individuals like Triple H, The Rock, Mark Henry and Stone Cold were living embodiments of strength, I regularly went through back catalogues of old wrestling shows. There I’d see Jimmy Superfly Snuka’s iconic finishes, Jimmy Hart’s unmatched smack talk and everything weird and wonderful that wrestling offered from the 1980s onwards. I, like many others, was enthralled by the athleticism of the wrestlers. I suspect that my initial interest in training came from my love of wrestling where the heels and the babyfaces sported muscular bodies in equal measure. In that vein, today’s post examines the WWF’s crossovers into health and fitness in the 1980s.

Guest Post: History of Advertising in the Sports Industry

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From simple wooden signs to high-tech Jumbotrons and impeccable social media presence, sports advertising has changed tremendously over the last 100 years. And since sports fans are some of the most brand-loyal people and some of the biggest consumers of content, it’s not a surprise that companies are battling to enter the sports market. In order to understand the importance of marketing in sport, here’s a little advertising 101 when it comes to the sports industry.

Guest Post: “Weight Training Women Stay in Shape Without Getting Muscle-Bound,” Jet Magazine, 1 September (1977)

63296414_1652529141558590_7644931320321146880_n.jpgFor a long time, men have dominated the sport of weight lifting. But tucked away at a YMCA in the small Midwestern town of Canton, Ohio, some 150 women are pumping iron, straining and twisting their feminine physiques, trying to smooth those flabby curves.

They bench-press, lift barbells, dumbbells, do chin-ups, situps, leg extensions and numerous other body exercises until their bodies ache with pain.

And all for what?

For some it’s just to stay in shape, but for about 20 others it’s a competitive sport and a rapidly developing one at that.

George A. Baselice, ‘GIGANTIC ARMS! The One Arm Per Day Blast For Bigger Arms’, Planet Muscle (Volume 5, Number 1, 2002)

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Have you ever tried the professional bodybuilder one-day arm blasting programs? I hope maybe some of you have heard of these and tried them. Primarily because I’d hate to think that I am the only goof who can spend an entire day training my arms!

Now, some of these are downright nutty programs. Most of the methods were “developed” and occasionally promoted in some of the muscle magazines back in the 50’s and 60’s, and some trainers such as Charles Poliquin have refined them a bit today.

At any rate, in most of them, you actually perform arm exercises every half-hour and every few hours you eat proteins. I tried one program and I mean I went from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. doing arm exercises. Don’t ask me what I was thinking! (Or not thinking as the case may be.)

Did I gain the 1/2″ on my arms, five days after completing this particular program, as the varied and sundry past articles claimed I would? Unfortunately, no. Did my arms shrink for the first 24 hours after this workout as most of the article also claimed they would? Unfortunately, yes!

The Long History of the Medicine Ball

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Few pieces of equipment have a century’s long history. Aside, perhaps, from the Indian club, most of the machines or devices we exercise with today count their origins to the eighteenth or nineteenth century. Sure some may argue that dumbbells have long been used by trainees but a simple look at Ancient Greek halteres makes clear that the modern dumbbell bears little resemblance.

The relatively new nature of exercise equipment obscures the fact that there is one piece of exercise equipment, used in almost every gym, that has a centuries long history. Enter the humble medicine ball. No other piece of equipment is treated with as much disrespect as the medicine ball. It is slammed, thrown, lifted, kicked and, at times, even hit with sledge hammers. Our relative ill treatment of it aside, the medicine ball is also one of those few devices that serves a variety of goals and training methods.

Few of us, myself included, acknowledge the long history of the medicine ball. With that in mind, today’s post tracks the long history of the medicine ball, beginning with its time in Ancient Greece, its re-emergence in the nineteenth century, right up to its modern day use.

Eugen Sandow, ‘The Jar and Fret of Business Lift,’ Sandow on Physical Training (New York, 1894).

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Theoretically, at least, we all pay tribute to the value and importance of physical education. We admire physical strength and beauty, and recognize, though only faintly as yet, the inter- relation of mind and matter. We know, moreover, that a healthy, active brain is sadly handicapped by an ill-developed, sickly body. We see around us every day of our lives masses of our race of imperfect growth and unsound constitution, and almost daily the lesson comes home to us of the break-down of some friend or acquaintance, whose weakness of body could not withstand the mental and bodily strain in the struggle of life.

Nautilus Machines and the Growth of the Gym Industry: An Interview with Thomas Todd

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Earlier this week I had the pleasure of chatting to Thomas Todd, a lifelong fitness fanatic with several decades experience in the health and fitness industry. Todd very kindly got in touch having read a recent Barbend article of mine on Arthur Jones of Nautilus fame. Readers of this website will recall Jones’ controversial nature, his incredible marketing ability and his, at times, outlandish claims of progress, most notably seen in his infamous ‘Colorado Experiment.’ Much to my delight, Todd had worked in a Nautilus facility in the mid-1970s, at the precise moment when the fitness community was truly engaging with Jones’ equipment and was willing to chat about his experiences.

Over the course of our conversation, Todd detailed his experiences in the Nautilus community, highlighting their popularity and uniqueness. Furthermore, he was able to give some lived insights into the changing landscape of the American fitness industry more generally.