Eugen Sandow and Bodybuilding Beginnings – LIFESTYLE BY PS icon

Eugen Sandow and Bodybuilding Beginnings

The bodybuilding scene has been popular for decades. It’s a discipline that demonstrates the potential of the human body when it comes to fitness, both physical and mental, and competition. It’s had several pivotal moments in its history, like the controversial 1980 Mr. Olympia event, but who is considered the first bodybuilder, and what were the origins of the sport?

Bodybuilding Beginnings

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Back in the Bodybuilding Early Days

Bodybuilding is thought to have originated during the 1890s, although it was considered a common activity back in Ancient Greece and Egypt. They’d use stones of varying sizes and weights to achieve what they believed to be a perfect muscular body.

However, India was streets ahead when it came to using stones as weights. Known as 'nals', dumbbell weights were used by those wanting to improve their endurance and strength. Gyms in India were fairly common to the point that weight training was considered a favored pastime.

It was towards the end of the 19th century that weight training was no longer restricted to those who wanted to keep fit but also became a source of entertainment. Initially known as strongmen, they would thrill crowds with amazing feats demonstrating their strength. 

It wasn’t uncommon for them to challenge one another, much to the delight of the crowds. However, these strongmen did not always look the part, with many of them often overweight and far from what we know modern-day bodybuilders to look like.

Eugen Sandow

Known as the father of bodybuilding, Eugen Sandow changed this, thanks to his strength and muscle. Born Friedrich Wilhelm Müller in 1867 in Prussia, Sandow started out as a strongman and intended to be the best, traveling to America to achieve this. 

Sandow represented what healthy eating combined with correct training could look like. He astounded people with both his physique and strength. He had a symmetrical and dense muscular form that many sought to emulate. On the back of this success, he developed some of the first bodybuilding machines and appeared in books and other promotional material, all whilst touring and posing to packed-out audiences. Sandow went to the UK, promoting various fitness centers around the country, in addition to publications, exercise equipment, and dietary products. 

The Great Show

Three years in the making, Sandow developed and promoted this bodybuilding show for his students in the UK to display their physiques. The winner would receive today’s equivalent of $2,500 and a golden Sandow statuette, with silver and bronze going to second and third-place winners, respectively.

This competition not only had an audience of around 2,000 but judges as well. Competitors had to participate in several events, such as wrestling and fencing. This live event enthralled the often sold-out venue as people marveled at the physiques on display before them.

The love for live bodybuilding events like this has stayed with us throughout the years. Society’s love for live events in general has expanded into other genres, outside of sports, especially in the entertainment industry. For instance, there are live streams on sites such as Twitch and Youtube where people play games and play music among other things. Musical events such as concerts and performances have also always done well throughout time, with opera being a steadfast example.

Online gaming sites regularly have live games, like the Shield of Sparta where players join the strongest fighting force of all time – the Spartans. There’s even a link room in some live bingo sites, where players in all rooms get to play together. The internet has enabled these events to be streamed without the need for travel.

Bodybuilding Beginnings

Source: Unsplash

Eugen Sandow was undoubtedly a trailblazer for his time and for the bodybuilding industry. But he achieved more than that; he managed to successfully plan and carry out the first-ever modern-day bodybuilding event. It changed the course of live bodybuilding competitions forever into what we know today. As live events continue to grow in all industries, in the world of bodybuilding, Eugen Sandow is a name that will never be forgotten.