Tag: Physical Culture

Eat like a Saxon!

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Those acquainted with the history of Physical Culture will no doubt recall the Saxon brothers, a travelling troupe of German strongmen who performed at the turn of the twentieth century. Blessed with remarkable physiques, the trio’s mighty strength was undoubtedly aided by their healthy appetite for food and drink. In fact, as today’s brief post shows, the trio consumed a gargantuan amount of food even by today’s standards.

According to Kurt Saxon, who acted as the trio’s chef on the road, a normal day’s consumption for each individual man was as follows:

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Katie Sandwina: The Strongest Woman in the World

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Strongmen around the turn of the 19th century usually grab the attention of most people interested in Physical Culture. Almost everyone will know the name Eugen Sandow. Yet despite our preconceived notions that strength is an exclusively male pursuit, Physical Culture was in fact an all-encompassing movement that didn’t exclude based on gender. There were female performers as well, many of whom were stronger than their male counterparts. Society viewed these women with a suspicious eye. Was it possible to be strong and ladylike? Were they not too masculine? Katie Sandwina, once the ‘Strongest Woman in the World’ had to face many of these pressures. What’s more, she did it with a smile.

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1903 and the birth of American Bodybuilding

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After three years of pumping up, slimming down and posing, Britain, and the world was treated to the first ever bodybuilding competition in 1901. Hosted by the legendary Eugen Sandow, the ‘Great Competition’ as it was known claimed to have found the most perfect specimens alive. Unsurprisingly it wasn’t long before other nations, notably America, began to hold their own bodybuilding shows.

Within two years of Sandow’s ‘Great Competition’, the US was hosting its own bodybuilding show. Today we tell their story.

P.G. Wodehouse – The Physical Culture Peril And How the Nation May Easily be Saved From It

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Easily one of the wittiest English writers of the early twentieth-century, P.G. Wodehouse was famous (or infamous) for his biting satire. Writing for Vanity Fair in May 1914, Wodehouse turned his sights on physical culture, a topic he was already well acquainted with. Perhaps you may recognise your own health behaviour in the article? Sadly I certainly can… The article goes well with our previous posting on ‘the Food Fadist‘.

Physical culture is in the air just now. Where, a few years ago, the average man sprang from bed to bath and from bath to breakfast-table, he now postpones his onslaught on the boiled egg for a matter of fifteen minutes. These fifteen minutes he devotes to a series of bendings and stretchings which in the course of time are guaranteed to turn him into a demi-god. The advertisement pages of the magazines are congested with portraits of stern-looking, semi-nude individuals with bulging muscles and fifty-inch chests, who urge the reader to write to them for illustrated booklet. Weedy persons, hitherto in the Chippendale class, are developing all sort of unsuspected thews, and the moderately muscular citizen (provided he has written for and obtained the small illustrated booklet) begins to have grave doubts as to whether he will be able, if he goes on at this rate, to get the sleeves of his overcoat over his biceps.

Is the Mr. America Contest an Athletic Event ?

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The following article, written in Peary Rader’s Ironman magazine in 1964, deals with a question most bodybuilding fans have to answer. Namely, whether or not the pursuit of muscle building can be viewed as a sport or athletic event in its own right.What differentiates Rader’s time from now is that back then, physique competitors were also expected to perform weightlifting feats as part of the competition. A stipulation one could hardly think possible in today’s Mr. Olympia competitions. Nevertheless the article raises and answers some interesting points from one of the industry’s most respected figures. Enjoy!

The controversy over phyisque contests has become one of the touchiest events you can discuss and perhaps for this reason we should keep quiet, and yet we have some convictions about this thing that we feel ought to be presented. It has been some years since we discussed the problems of phyisque contests in Iron Man and perhaps it is time to bring it up again since, instead of lessening, the difficulties seem to be increasing.