Wednesday, April 05, 2006

An Early Bodybuilder

In a 1907 article in the Los Angeles Times, Eugen Sandow offers this advice to women seeking to retain their youthful appearance, noting:

“At first I thought it might seem that for a woman to look only 25 years old when she has actually seen 40 summers was too good to be possible.

But among my own acquaintances there are many women of 40 who look no more than 25 and others of 50 who would certainly be ‘guessed’ at not more than 30 or 35.”

Sandow noted three factors in a woman’s appearance: diet, exercise and, yes, the corset.

He recommended these exercises:


Ready Position—Bend forward from the hips and hold the [dumb]bells down in front of the body.

Movement—Raise the bells slowly upward and outward, arms straight, until they are above the level of the back of the head. Pause, then slowly press them down to ready position.


Ready Position—Breathing exercise. Arms by side, hands in front of thighs, stand erect.

Movement—(1) Raise the arms slowly outward and upward until they meet above the head, expand the chest, inhaling through the nostrils all the time the arms are in motion. The face should look up, following the motion of the hands. Maintain this position for a moment, and then (2) bring the arms slowly down sideways and in front of the thighs, exhaling through the mouth to the utmost.


Ready Position—Stand erect, arms stretched well above head.

Movement—(1) Bend forward, making the hip joint the hinge of movement. Try to touch floor 12 inches in front of toes. (2) Stretch upward and to the rear, the hands leading. Inhale through the nostrils going up, exhaling going down.

(It’s unclear what size weights he recommended).

One final bit of advice, ladies:

“This exercise must, however, be scientific exercise, and not the rough and tumble pastimes indulged in by the other sex. Games, such as football, cricket, hockey are not—although I know many women will disagree with me—suitable for the gentler sex.

“Certainly, if a woman wishes to keep young and fair to look upon, she will not indulge in them. They may be healthy in a way—that is a moot point—but they have a distinctly coarsening effect upon both figure and complexion.”

And “motoring” is bad for your skin, ladies, so if you insist on going out in a machine take proper precautions or you’ll get “motorface.”

Sandow (born Friederich Wilhelm Mueller) died Oct. 16, 1925, in England.

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