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)

Jack LaLanne

Jack LaLanne
(Maura McCarthy)

LaLanne opened his first health club in 1936 and went on to invent several staples of the modern-day gym, including the leg extension, weight selector and cable/pulley machines. Aside from performing amazing physical feats—such as completing 1,033 pushups in 23 minutes, 50 seconds at age 42 and swimming 1.3 miles from Alcatraz Island to Fisherman’s Wharf, handcuffed and towing a 1,000–pound boat at age 60—LaLanne is also known for his television show, which ran from 1951-1985 and emphasized healthy living through diet and regular exercise. Editor's note: Jack Lalanne died on January 23, 2011.

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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