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EUGEN SANDOW: THE ORIGINAL BODYBUILDER BY FERRIGNO FIT
EUGEN SANDOW: THE ORIGINAL BODYBUILDER By FERRIGNO FIT
Before Jack LaLanne, before Steve Reeves, before Lou and Arnold, there was Eugen Sandow (April 2, 1867 – October 14, 1925).
Part circus sideshow, part showman, Russian-born Sandow is often referred to as the Father of Modern Bodybuilding. In the late 1800s, while strongmen in Europe were challenging each other to strength competitions, Sandow performed “muscle displays” (aka posing) in circuses and focused on perfecting his physique. Some called him a “circus athlete,” but we’d call him an entrepreneur.
Sandow noticed that audiences were more interested in the details of his physique than feats of strength. So he made that the focus of his work. He would measure Greek sculptures in museums to establish the proper measurements for “The Grecian Ideal.” He developed workouts that aimed to build his body towards these specific measurements – inspired by symmetry, balance, and natural shapes.
Sandow perfected his skills and soon gained the admiration of fans and people like producer/promoter Florenz Ziegfeld, who launched him into stardom. Friends with people like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Thomas Edison, and even King George V, Sandow was able to introduce “body building” to people all over the world with great success. He created and endorsed many exercise products for the masses – possibly the first to ever do so. He opened several Institutes of Physical Culture to teach methods of exercise, dietary habits, and successful weight training – basically the first gym. Sandow is also responsible for the first bodybuilding competition, the “Great Competition,” held in the United Kingdom. The trophy presented to the winner was a bronze statue of Sandow. Today, the winner of the Mr. Olympia championship is presented with the same bronze statue of Sandow that he himself presented to the winner at the first contest.
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