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First person to offer course via mail or book

Posted: Sun Oct 06, 2019 7:27 pm
by t01880

I'm curious to know who was the first person to offer a PC course via mail order or in book form.

Any help from the board will be greatly appreciated.


Re: First person to offer course via mail or book

Posted: Mon Oct 07, 2019 12:29 pm
by peter yates
Hi Tom,
great question and welcome to the forum.Please take a few moments to introduce yourself.I do not have the answer but some of the other members may have and i will do some research myself. Hope we can find the answer.

Re: First person to offer course via mail or book

Posted: Tue Oct 08, 2019 10:51 am
by David Gentle
Thats a great question. I guess you would need to find the earliest mags on bodybuilding, or probably then in early days, health or physical culture. I know Bernarr Mc Fadden was early on the scene and some of his books show later famous muscle by mail order icons, Earle Liederman and Charles Atlas in very early photos as "pupils" of Mc Fadden. If you look, you will find Liederman quoted as being a pupil of Mc Fadden,,then Charles Atlas being a pupil of Liederman and then dozens of copy cat adverts from the muscle men of the day realising the idea of bringing out a course was a good little money maker. Liederman was the greatest with his adverts literally on every publication of the day . Much the same with the Atlas course, advertised everywhere including on , where i found it, kids comics. Jowett came into the game with his "Tough as a Marine" ads and famous "Mould a mighty, arms/chest/legs/back etc little booklets now collectors items.(written by Vic Boff) Look in early copies of the American muscle mag Strength and go to the advertising pages and you can find loads of names, known and unknown. I have written several articles on the subject which can be found on this site which i believe carries more information on such historical muscle building than any other on the internet, you just need to navigate a little to find the area you find interesting. Just remembering Thomas Inch who was a great writer and brought many instructional courses and books, both using weights and also non apparatus like the self resistance stuff most sold as the pupil didnt have to fork out for apparatus.I have seen adverts where the weights were free and the "pupil to be" only paid for the course/instructions. I love old courses as you can tell and at one time had a huge box full of them, one of the best parts were the free booklets advertised to encourage pupils, amongst these, i still the Atlas Everlasting Health and Strength booklet the best. whoops, i am going on a bit as i love the subject, so will hang up....David Gentle

Re: First person to offer course via mail or book

Posted: Tue Oct 08, 2019 4:16 pm
by Paul Shaw
I'll nominate Sandows Strength and how to obtain it first published 1897.
This is to my knowledge the first muscle building course presented albeit in a book format.
Any other nominations for earlier courses

Re: First person to offer course via mail or book

Posted: Tue Oct 08, 2019 7:53 pm
by peter yates
Hi Guys, so this is what i have been able to find so far. I guess we have to consider, are we looking at the first writings on exercise and training,health promotion etc. or more recent history?In 2005 David Webster gave a first edition copy of DE ARTE GYMNASTICA written by the Italian physician Hieronymous Mercurialis, which is said to be one of the earliest modern works on exercise and health and as such influenced those that followed, to the Stark Center, Austin, Texas. However on a site called Pioneers of Physical Culture there is mention of a book on exercise and training advise published in 1553 by Dr.Christobal Mendel in Seville, Spain.However there is no title given for the book and only 2 known copies This information was taken from David Webster's book 'The History of Bodybuilding..What is interesting is that the book mentions writings on exercise and health going back to antiquity by such well known figures as Aristotle,Celsus, Galen and Ptolemy. I am unsure if any of these writings have been preserved but if we are considering more recent training guides then the first two mentioned books must be considered. More up to date there were several writing on the topic of exercise,health and physical culture in the 18th and 19th centuries.Webster's book also mentions such modern figures as Friedrich Jahn 1778-1847, the so called 'Father of Modern Gymnastics,' who wrote extensively on exercise and Archibald McClaren of Britain who ran a private gymnasium and in 1863 wrote 'National Systems of Bodily Exercise.' This contained information on all round training using free exercise, apparatus work and weight training. Does anyone own the Webster book by the way?Looking forward to further findings.