Previously on this site we’ve looked at fitness in the classical age and today we’ll be continuing that theme with a brief examination of the Greek Halteres. The halteres were the Greek equivalent of the modern day dumbbell and had a variety of uses from athletics to aesthetics.
Last week we had the first of Vihjalmur Stefansson’s amazing account of his all meat diet. This week we look at the second installment.
Now that the experiments in diet which Karsen Anderson and I undertook at Bellevue Hospital have been accepted by the medical world, it is difficult to realize that there could have been such a storm of excitement about the announcement of the plan, such a violent clash of opinions, such near unanimity to the prediction of dire results.
Vilhjamur Stefannsson was a man of note for several reasons. Born in Canada in the late 1800s, the would be explorer discovered new lands and continental shelves, all the while publishing a host of books, articles and journals. Between 1906 and 1918, he went on three expeditions into Canadian and Alaskan Arctic, with the duration of each trip varying from sixteen months to five years. During these years he observed the dietary habits of the local Inuits, whose primary food source was meat.
In 1935 Stefannsson published his experiences in Harper’s Monthly over two articles detailing the all meat diet he encountered. Below is Stefannsson’s first article.
In 1906 I went to the Arctic with the food tastes and beliefs of the average American. By 1918, after eleven years as an Eskimo among Eskimos, I had learned things which caused me to shed most of those beliefs. Ten years later I began to realize that what I had learned was going to influence materially the sciences of medicine and dietetics. However, what finally impressed the scientists and converted many during the last two or three years, was a series of confirmatory experiments upon myself and a colleague performed at Bellevue Hospital, New York City, under the supervision of a committee representing several universities and other organizations.
It was only two minutes and four seconds
‘Fore Schmeling was down on his knees
He looked like he was praying to the good Lord
To ‘Have mercy on me, please.’
Bill Gaither, 1938
June 22, 1938 and over 70,000 fans crammed into Yankee Stadium to see the ‘Brown Bomber’ Jou Louis face off against German boxer Max Schmeling for the second time in two years. Their interest was matched by the 64% of radio-owning Americans who tuned in that night to hear the fight’s broadcast. In 1936 Schmeling had beaten Louis in the very same venue after exploiting a weakness Louis’s boxing style. It was a defeat that sent the black community in America reeling. Joe was the first black boxer to gain acceptance by the American boxing federation since the controversial Jack Johnson and his defeat was met with utter devastation in black communities. At a time when the Ku Klux Klan was enjoying a revival, Joe had been a symbol of hope that blacks could integrate in white society. His loss was about more than sport.
Is it possible to gain 63 pounds of muscle in less than a month? What about 15 pounds of muscle in twenty-two days? By any metric such results would be phenomenal but few people believe such a feat is manageable.
Yet in the early 1970s, Arthur Jones, creator of the Nautilus machines, claimed it was possible through his own brand of High Intensity Training (HIT). What’s more, he claimed he had scientific backing for his claims.
So what exactly happened during the Colorado Experiment conducted by Jones and was he telling the truth? Have strength enthusiasts been selling themselves sort by setting low targets for muscle gain? After all if such training can yield 15 to 63 pounds of muscle in one month it must be worth doing.
“Activity is life, while stagnation is death”. The Encyclopedia of Indian Physical Culture, xviii. In 1950, several strength enthusiasts got together in the newly independent India to gather accurate accounts of India’s contribution to the […]
During the prime of his career, Eugen Sandow was known for having ‘the perfect physique’ and for being one of the foremost proponents of physical culture. Physical culture being broadly understood as the social movement concerned with health and strength that swept across Europe and the United States in the late 19th and early 20th century. A man built to a Grecian ideal of beauty and presented as the ideal of what good health should be, Sandow toured the world performing and lecturing the masses about the importance of physical and spiritual health. Such was Sandow’s mass appeal in the late 19th and early 20th century, that some commentators have credited him with launching the body obsessive societies of today. His influence stretched from America to Australia and many places in between. Much has been written about Sandow’s time in Great Britain and the United States, but few have examined Sandow’s time in the south of Ireland in the late 1890s. His time in Ireland was brief but it was to leave lasting results.
When Atlas Wasn’t Playing Tug-of-War he was giving out Diet Tips
“I realize you are anxious to build up great strength and power as soon as possible. Here is a simple secret which should help give you the results you hope for.”
Charles Atlas, Mail Order Workout Programme, Lesson Two, c.1930s
In 1921 Charles Atlas won Bernarr McFadden’s ‘Most Perfectly Developed Man Competition’. In 1922, he won again and by this time McFadden ceased holding the competition. Rumour has it McFadden stopped because he felt Atlas would win every time. By the end of the 1920s Atlas was marketing his own unique mail order workout programme aimed at delivering fast results to his customers. The World’s Most Perfectly Developed Man promised to turn his weak students into dynamic man, just as Atlas had done with himself. In just 12 basic lessons, Atlas covered everything from diet and training to the right mind-set for building an awesome physique.
In the second lesson of the Atlas programme, aspiring muscle men (and women) were given a secret muscle-building programme by Atlas. It revolved around a single food…a ‘super food’ in modern day parlance.
Have you heard about the health benefits of Coconut Oil?
It’s great for energy, will help you burn fat and can even help you stave off infections. Coconut juice was even used as an IV Drip for injured soldiers during the Second World War. It’s been labelled a ‘super food’ by many in the dietary industry but what the medical world isn’t telling you is that coconut oil isn’t even fit for pigs to eat. Recent history has shown us this.
Playboy, character or revolutionary?
Rarely are such terms used to describe the same person and that is what made Malcolm Alexander Allison such an enigma to those who knew him. Allison was hugely influential in the introduction of modern training systems in 1960s England but his reputation as a trainer was often overshadowed by matters off the pitch. A shame when one considers Allison helped spread ideas about weight training, aerobic fitness and nutrition in a sport renowned for its archaic training methods.