The Story of Jeanne Kalfur: Corrective and Contouring Exercise — Peggy Gironda (1951)

Alas, real life has once again gotten in the way of blogging for a number of months. FOUNDATIONS OF IRON is still alive, I promise! At last, we present another classic article on women’s fitness, this time the “Vivacious Womanhood” supplement to the July-August 1951 issue of Peary Rader’s Iron Man magazine. This piece demonstrates the value of weight training for therapeutic purposes. Today, decades later, physical therapy continues to incorporate resistance exercises with machines, bands and free weights.

This article was written by Peggy Gironda (nee O’Neil), the first wife of the “iron guru” Vince Gironda, fitness trainer to Hollywood stars and physique competitors in the middle to later decades of the twentieth century. Like Vince, Peggy had a background in show business. At a time when women typically trained separately from men, Peggy trained female fitness enthusiasts at Vince’s Gym and other locations. Unfortunately, she passed away from a brain hemorrhage at a young age.

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A rare photo of Peggy and Vince Gironda together, on the cover of the magazine which featured the article below. Click to enlarge (opens in new window/tab) Continue reading

Girl Weight Lifters (1954)

Today we pick up again after a brief summer hiatus, to begin a series of posts focusing on women’s weight training as it was practiced in the middle decades of the twentieth century.

We kick this series off with some vintage footage from British Pathé, posted on their Youtube channel.

This video highlights the benefits of weight training, at a time when it was thought by the general public that lifting weights would distort women’s figures and cause them to become overly masculine, in addition to various supposed ill effects on health.

Stay tuned in the upcoming weeks for more on this topic, with exclusive vintage magazine excerpts on women’s weight training!

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

Exercise of the month (Reg Park Journal, Oct. 1955)

Below is an example of a very brief feature of The Reg Park Journal in the mid-twentieth century, highlighting one particular exercise and describing the benefits. This was a practical and beneficial feature of Mr. Universe Reg Park’s physical culture publication.

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Illustration which accompanied the article. Click to enlarge (will appear in new window/tab)

Magazine Excerpt:

“Chins” behind head are an exercise which can be used as a basic body-building exercise or on your “off” training days “free style.” Continue reading

Vince Gironda posing (1950s?)

Today we feature footage of the late “Iron Guru” Vince Gironda doing a physique posing exhibition, from the “ironguru” Youtube channel. The footage has been paired with Vangelis’ “Chariots of Fire” theme, which was one of the preferred compositions of Gironda’s student Mohamed Makkawy.

Continue reading