Friday, July 20, 2012

Eugene Sandow at the NEC

Eugene Sandow, the man who pretty much single-handedly invented bodybuilding and gym culture in the late 19th century was no slouch when it came to self-promotion either. He published several books about his 'system' including this,  Strength and How to Obtain It (Gale and Poulden, London, 1897) which is for sale on a stall here at the NEC. He is posed throughout the book in various classical-esque situations - no prizes for guessing the reference in the photo above. But more interestingly to me was that the book also contains photos of his prize-students also strutting their stuff. The pursuit of the perfect body is such a commonplace idea today that it is odd to think that there was once a time when it would have been slightly odd, the idea that you could or should manipulate the look of your own body, except by the work you do or the life you lead.


J said...

Just a side note: Noted fantasy author William Hope Hodgson (who died at Ypres in 1918) only took to writing full time when his "physical culture" studio failed. Hodgson was an avid bodybuilder, and bragged in an interview that he could expand his chest to 42-1/2 inches. Nowadays, half the teenagers we know could match that measurement, but Hodgson as an adult stood only 5-foot-4-1/2 !

Callum said...

Hi J,

thank you as ever for your interesting contribution. Although I knew of Hodgson a little, that was a side of his life I had no idea about so thank you...


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