Bodybuilders Through the Ages

Over the past 150 years, bodybuilders have gone from circus sideshows to celebrities, imparting fitness lessons along the way

Jack LaLanne (1914 - 2011) (Bettmann / Corbis)

Bernar Macfadden

Bernarr Macfadden
(Maura McCarthy)

A bodybuilder and health enthusiast, Macfadden founded Physical Culture magazine in 1899 and built a publishing empire that included detective and romance fiction as well as sport and health titles. He built sanitariums and founded Physical Culture City, a self-sufficient settlement in New Jersey for people who wished to adopt a simple, healthful life. The latter venture failed after a few years. Macfadden promoted fasting as part of a healthy regimen and decried the typical American diet, saying, “Men may not take their god too seriously; but how they do bow to earth before their shrine of three meals a day, their adulterated white flour, their vast groaning tables of unnecessary food!”

About Jesse Rhodes

Jesse Rhodes is an editorial assistant for Smithsonian magazine. Before he became an editorial assistant, Jesse worked at the Library of Congress Publishing Office, where he was a contributor to the Library of Congress World War II Companion.

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