Tag: History

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.

The History of Kaatsu Training

“Wrap a band around your bicep until it begins to go numb, then pump out 30 reps with a light weight… Trust me, the pump is worth it.”

These are not the words of an enlightened man but rather my first experience of Kaatsu or Blood Restriction Training. Brought to my attention by a training partner whose grasp of science is not always the strongest, Kaatsu training has grown in popularity over the last decade. While my friend’s description may seem appropriate at first glance, there is quite a lot more to this training system than first meets the eye.

With this in mind today’s post seeks to answer three simple questions: what is Kaatsu training? How was it created? And, perhaps most importantly, should you try it?

Guest Post: THE PELOTON WIFE AND DEBBIE DRAKE

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Images of a young, beautiful woman filming herself with her Christmas gift went viral last month. A television advertisement for the home exercise cycle Peloton depicts her trying out the new product, a present from her partner/husband, as she records her experiences on a cell phone. The appearance of the woman—identified as “Grace from Boston”—sparked controversy. Selfie stills from the commercial emphasize her complicated expression, a face somewhere between being excited about using her Peloton bike and seemingly terrified of it.

Bill Starr, ‘Sex and the Barbell’, Defying Gravity How To Win At Weightlifting (New York, 1981), p. 24.

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I once wrote a piece for the “Behind the Scenes” section in Strength & Health magazine dealing with the subject of sex before competition. I thought that I was quite obviously tongue-in-cheeking the presentation and made the comment that lifters would do well to lay off sex during the final week before a meet. As it turned out, I was not obvious enough as I received numerous letters and a few phone calls from irritated wives. It seemed that many lifters took my advise as gospel and denied their ladies any sexual gratification in the week prior to the contest. I have often suspected that many of these lifters merely used my words as an ex-cuse and most likely were doing a bit of hankey-pankey on the side at my expense.

The Birth of the Arnold Strongman Classic

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Earlier this year we were treated to perhaps the most exciting Arnold Strongman Classic to date. We saw Hafthor Bjornsson win the event for the second year in a row with a domineering display of power. The ‘Wheel of Pain’ from Conan the Barbarian made an appearance and it was joined by an exact replica of the famed Husafell Stone. The competition itself, and its sponsor, Rogue Fitness, spared no expense or difficulty in devising a truly remarkable show.

For those unaware of the Arnold Strongman, the competition is an annual gathering of some of the strongest athletes in the world held as part of the Arnold Classic, a multi-sporting event hosted by Arnold Schwarzenegger. While the Classic itself began in 1989, largely as a bodybuilding contest, it has grown since then to include everything from Ninja Warrior to fencing. It’s this multi-sporting appeal which resulted in the inclusion of a strongman event.

Regular readers of the blog will no doubt be asking why a strongman event came to the Arnold. After all, the World’s Strongest Man contest (WSM), as detailed previously on this site, had been running since the late 1970s. Herein lies the beauty of the Arnold strongman. Whereas the WSM is often times decided by a combination of muscular strength and athletic endurance, the Arnold, as conceived by the Todds, Peter Lorimer and Arnold Schwarzenegger, is interested solely in brute force. In the WSM, a competitors’ endurance is often a limiting factor. This is especially the case in any long distance carrying events or lift for reps features. In the Arnold, the lifts are closer to one rep maxes or are done under very strict time limits. The thinking behind this is that the Arnold is a better indication of who is the strongest man while the WSM combines strength and endurance. Think of the Arnold as a test of strength alone.

Now while that is simplifying things somewhat, it provides a nice indication of the organiser’s initial motivations. So with that in mind, today’s post takes us back to 2002 and the inaugural Arnold Strongman Classic.

Guest Post: How Has the Olympics Changed Over Time?

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The first Olympics, inspired by the Olympian Gods, was held in Greece in 776 BC. Centuries on, the game has been carried from country to country, through a range of wars, political developments, boycotts and above all, great human achievements.

120 years since the first modern Olympics took place in Athens in 1896, it makes you wonder how the games, including rules and requirements, have changed ever since.

How Indian Clubs Came to England

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Originating in modern-day India, the practice of club swinging has a long and deeply embedded cultural Indian history. In the first instance, the Indian clubs featured heavily in the Mahabharata, a Hindu religious epic written during the Indian Vedic Age (1500 – 500 BCE). Highly allegorical, the epic focused on two warring sects, the Pandevas and Kauravas, with their fierce battle a metaphor for life itself (Dasgupta, 2004, 411-420). While several figures used gadas (Indian club precursors) throughout the religious epic, it was the final gadabattle between Bhima, the king and Duryodhan, the man vying for Bhima’s throne, which became synonymous with the Indian clubs’ importance (Roy, 2012, 21-23). That each man, famed for his power and force wielded gadas linked the clubs to overt images of strength, masculinity and military prowess. Similarly, that Bhima killed Duryodhan with his club demonstrated its very real destructive capabilities (Ibid.).