Inthe contemporary world gyms and fitness centers have becomecommonplace as the health and fitness industry continues to matureand grow. Physical exercise and body toning have been on the mind ofmankind from the early 19th century. The development of the fitnessindustry is a global story that begins in Europe. In the early 1800s,Europeans had started to develop an interest and keen observation tomuscle and fitness. Now in the contemporary world the fitness andbodybuilding industry has grown into a multibillion dollar industry.
Thisstudy paper intends to look at the physical fitness culture in thecontemporary world tracing its origins from the 19th century. Thestudy suggests that the current fitness lifestyle and the billiondollar fitness industry all originated from the physical culture bornin the 19th century. The long residuals theory states that one canforecast the present from past historical events. The presentsituation is also a result of modification and evolution of the past.This study begins in the 19th century at the onset of the physicalculture. The study will then move towards the present observing andanalyzing the evolution of the present-day fitness and sportsculture. The study will also look at the use of medication andsteroids in the physical health and fitness industry though briefly.The paper believes the use of performance enhancement drugs began inthe 19th century (Hagger, 2014).
Physicalculture was a movement started in the 19th century that involvedmultitudes taking up a personal engagement in keeping fit andhealthy. The development of the fitness industry is a global storythat begins in Europe. In the early 1800s, Europeans had started todevelop an interest and keen observation to muscle and fitness. PerHenrik Ling and Niels Bukh developed some of the very first exercisesand routines to build up muscle and fitness. In the late 19th centuryand interest in circus performers named `strong men` was on the rise,the `strong men` were people of great strength and performed tasks onstage that required muscle and strength. The fitness and interest inmuscle only grew in popularity from that point onward, with somecountries such as Germany, Sweden and the Soviet Union pioneering thephysical culture. In the early forms of physical culture, theparticipants were mostly men as the muscle was associated with warand violence. In the late 19th century the physical culture wasspreading especially across the western countries such as the US. Newtraining techniques and methods were being developed and experimentedas the culture grew more and more popular. Scientists becameinterested and captivated by the physical culture and techniques usedby gymnasts, at the time the main techniques were the gym movementsfrom Germany, Denmark, and Sweden. Scientists took the systems andanalyzed them coming up with more effective techniques for gainingmuscle and fitness. Another influence in marketing the physicalculture was mass media such as movies. In the late 19th century andearly 20th century movies such as pumping iron which had celebritiessuch as Arnold Schwarzenegger had a significant influence on theAmerican population and endorsed weight training (Hohansson, 2014).
EugeneSandow was a German-born strong man who was born in 1867. Mr. Sandowinfluenced a lot of the modern gym and muscle training. He toured theworld performing in circuses and other platforms he usually touredwith Professor Attila who was a physical education trainer andeducator. Before Professor Attila`s intervention, it was believedthat one should only train with light weights as using heavy weightswill lead to muscle binding which was a condition in which theathlete would grow extremely muscular that he could no longer movehis limbs. Mr. Sandow became the poster athlete for training usingheavy weights. His tour of the United States of America wasparticularly successful as multitudes showed up to his shows to seehis huge muscles and possibly touch them. His tour coincided with theevolution of photography he became one of the most photographedpersons of the time with pictures of his half-naked masculine bodyfilling most postcards (Park, 1994).
Theability to change one`s body to a more masculine and stronger onethrough weight training, captivated people from all classes of thedivide. Regardless of wealth, social status and political standingone could weight train for a more attractive and muscular body.Weight training and fitness exercises became tied to religion it wassaid that keeping the body healthy and the fit was taking care ofGod`s reward. A religious movement called the muscular Christianitywas formed and supported weight training. The physical culture hadbecome embedded into society by the late 19th century, and everyonewas thinking about getting more muscular.
Mr.Sandow later opened a physical culture institution and wrote amagazine. He became the very first fitness entrepreneur andpersonally diagnosed all the clients that went to his institute. Mr.Sandow revolutionized the bodybuilding industry permanently when heset up the very first bodybuilding competition in 1901 which was heldat the Royal Albert Hall in London, Britain and named it the GreatCompetition. The completion was carried on and passed from one greatathlete to another such as Charles Atlas. Sandow also traveled theworld spreading his message of weight training and endorsing histechniques (Park, 1994).
CharlesAtlas took the mantle from Sandow as the major promoter of thephysical culture. Atlas saw it as his personal mission to contributeto the establishment of the perfect country with all citizens beingmuscular and physically fit. After the world war, the Americanfathers had a different role to play, and many took up weighttraining increasing the popularity of the gym. American society waslooking for a hero figure, and Atlas seemed to be the perfectmasculine figure this led to an increase in the penetration of thephysical culture in the USA. Atlas wrote several profiles on physicalculture such as ` Atlas, the heritage from Muscular Christianity, andthe search for a national hero` that contributed to the culture ofmasculinity and fitness.
TheIHRSA, International Health Racquet, and Sports Club state that in2002 the sports and fitness industry generated an estimate of $75.7billion from serving fitness enthusiasts. Over the past ten years,subscriptions to gyms and other fitness facilities have been on therise despite the price of gym membership also rising with time. Theincreasing interest in physical culture and sports competitions hasalso had some negative effects on society and athletes. With globalcompetitions and pride on the line, some doctors are conductingresearch on physical fitness and coming up with drug enhancementsthat give the competitor and unfair advantage. The use ofsteroids and testosterone for physical fitness training began withthe medical practitioner Charles Edouard. Edouard injected himselfwith blood from the testicles, testicle juice and semen reportingthat he felt a significant increase in energy and physical abilitywhich diapered completely after a month without using. Furtherresearch into the experiment by Edouard revealed that a hormonecalled testosterone was to attribute for the increased energy andphysical ability. The hormone was naturally produced in the testiclesand explains the observations by Edouard after injecting himself withtesticular fluids. As the medical practice, advanced scientists couldsynthetically produce the hormone testosterone. Athletes from thattime onwards have always tried all medical solutions to gain anadvantage over their opponents. Athletes are however tested andmonitored for any unauthorized substance that would lead to unfaircompetition. Doping has however become a major problem challengingthe Olympics and other fair sports competitions (Bahrke, 2015).
Physicalculture has had a positive overall effect on society as physicalfitness leads to better physical health and mental health. Theculture has grown from infancy to the current stage where it is amulti-billion dollar industry in just over a decade. Medical studieshave shown an individual who exercises on a regular basis is at alower risk of many diseases and because of this the paper canattribute a reduction in disease to physical culture. Despite themultiple benefits, physical culture can also be attributed to thecreation of steroids and other enhancement drugs that are not safe oracceptable by international organizations.
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