True ‘body building’ — F. Sanfilippo (1962)

So far, FOUNDATIONS OF IRON has primarily featured examples of historic physical culture from the US, and occasionally England. Now we take a step outside of the Anglosphere for a look at the physical culture of France, with a translation of an article from the January 1962 issue of La Culture Physique, a monthly fitness magazine that seems to have been in publication for several decades from the early to mid twentieth century.

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The cover masthead of La Culture Physique. Click to enlarge (will appear in new window/tab).

In the history of physical fitness, it has been common for certain individuals to enter the limelight and be lauded as teachers and gurus. French physical culture was no exception. La Culture Physique was the official publication of physical culturist Edmond Desbonnet. Even five years after Desbonnet passed away in 1957, praise for the “Desbonnet method” and for Desbonnet himself still appeared throughout this magazine, including the article below.

This article calls for a more holistic and healthful approach to physical culture, in the face of a rising trend of what the author considered to be bodybuilding purely for muscular development. Continue reading

Michael Pearman — Strongman Hairstylist (1959)

British Weightlifter Michael Pearman appears in this 1959 profile vignette, from the archives of the British Pathé Youtube channel. This somewhat whimsical profile shows how, at the time, Pearman was developing skills in two separate and unrelated fields: as an Olympic weightlifter, and as a ladies’ hairdresser. Yes, strength is for everybody!

After this, Pearman participated in a number of international weightlifting competitions, and he represented Great Britain as part of the weightlifting team at the Olympic Games in 1964, 1968, and 1972. He would go on to become a weightlifting coach, including as chief coach to the British weightlifters at the 2001 world championships in Antalya, Turkey, and as head coach to the English squads at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland. He currently coaches the weightlifting club at Brunel University London.

It is unknown whether Pearman has kept up his skills as a ladies’ hairstylist over the years.

This video also highlights changing attitudes toward weight training for athletes. Continue reading

Say Hi to Vince Gironda (1978)

In a FOUNDATIONS OF IRON exclusive, today’s post presents a profile of the “Iron Guru” Vince Gironda and his gym and training methods, which originally appeared in the March 1978 issue of the now-defunct magazine Inside Kung-Fu. This is the first time that this article has ever been reproduced in electronic format for today’s online fitness community!

In the field of physical culture, Gironda is remembered for training competitive bodybuilders, as well as Hollywood stars who needed to get into proper shape for movie or television roles. This was carried out at Vince’s Gym, which he operated in North Hollywood from the 1940s to the 1990s. He is also remembered for ideas which were not always in line with the mainstream thinking within bodybuilding. Nevertheless, both his weight training and nutritional information proved very useful to many physique champions and movie stars.

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Vince Gironda in superb condition at over sixty years of age, in a photo which accompanied the article below. Click to enlarge (appears in new window/tab).

What might not be quite as well-remembered is that Gironda also occasionally gave training advice specific to sports activities. This is highlighted in the article below, which applies Gironda’s methods to martial artists. Gironda also dispensed training information for such diverse areas as arm wrestling, caber tossing, and even powerlifting.

Further reading, an online archive of many of Vince Gironda’s writings: http://www.ironguru.com

Magazine Excerpt: Continue reading

The Mental Aspects of Weight-Training – Chuck Coker (1962)

Written works on serious weight training sometimes describe the “mind-muscle connection,” and serious trainees can attest that if their mental state is ‘off’ during a workout, then performance and results will suffer.

The article below illustrates the importance of the mind in weight training. This was taken from the May-June 1962 issue of Physical Power, a mid-twentieth century fitness publication which covered a variety of aspects of training for physique, strength, and sports. The writer, the late Chuck Coker, was head Track and Field coach at Occidental College in the late 1950s to the early 1960s.

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A photo of Vince Gironda which accompanied the article. Click to enlarge (will open in new window/tab).

Further reading on Chuck Coker: https://www.oxy.edu/magazine/fall-2016/guts-glory

Magazine Excerpt: Continue reading

Remarkable Jack LaLanne – Earle Liederman (1963)

The late Jack LaLanne was renowned as the “godfather of fitness.” He did a great deal to promote physical fitness and healthful nutrition to the public. Additionally, he was known for his feats of physical endurance, and he competed in physique competitions and graced the covers of various fitness magazines in the mid-twentieth century.

Today we present an entertaining and inspiring profile of Mr. LaLanne which originally appeared in the October 1963 issue of “Strength and Health,” in an account given by the prolific iron game writer Earle Liederman.

LaLanne1963FeaturedJack LaLanne near fifty years old and in top condition, in a photo that accompanied the article. Click to enlarge (appears in new window/tab).

Magazine Excerpt: Continue reading