Thursday, December 2, 2010

Famous Faces in Fitness

Yesterday at work, I had to give one of our newest members an orientation. He asked me, "will this make me look like Charles Atlas?" To which I responded: "Um, who?" He looked at me kind of funny, then asked me if I really didn't know who Charles Atlas was. I assured him that, in fact, I had no clue. "He's like, the inventor of fitness." Which made me feel extremely dumb. I am, after all, a fitness professional so you'd think I would know the history of my craft. Of course I came home and looked up this Atlas character on Wikipedia and he is, for lack of better words an inventor of fitness programming. Here's a clip from the advertisement that made him famous:

Check out the entire ad, and you'll see (quite comically) that Charles Atlas is clearly the "world's most perfectly developed man," and that he knows how to get any man the "Greek God type of physique that women rave about at the beach." Insert chuckle here. (Really, I did chuckle.) No, but honestly—Charles Atlas came up with a fitness program in the 1920s that he referred to as "Dynamic Tension" and it consisted of a series of exercises done with nothing more than one's own bodyweight. Think calf raises, squats, crunches, etc. And in a society that was really pretty unfocused on bodybuilding and muscle and weights and whatnot, you can't help but appreciate the program's advanced nature. Also, what it did for that society's view of physical fitness—a view that continues (with much improvement) to this day.

Whether or not he actually invented all those exercises, I can't say for sure. But I sure can appreciate his ability to create a program that works. Various parts of it are still often implemented. And in my case, sometimes without even knowing it. Charles Atlas may no longer be with us, but he just might be the first on a long list of famous faces in fitness like Jane Fonda, Richard Simmons, Arnold Schwarzenegger...even Jillian Michaels. And just this week, we added Madonna.

Yep, the Material Girl is now taking on the world of fitness as she opened her first Hard Candy Fitness club in Mexico City. The first of what is rumored to be many across the world. When asked why her gym is better than others: "It's mine," she says. Click here to watch Entertainment Tonight's full report.

Question: Who is your favorite famous face in fitness?

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