Charles Atlas Biography

Charles Atlas

From the skinny boy who endured childhood bullying to 'The World's Most Perfectly Developed Man', Charles Atlas created an exercise regime that became the stuff of legend.

Charles Atlas was born Angelo Siciliano in Italy before journeying to America with other immigrants, aged ten.

During his teens, Angelo was "a weakling, weighing 98 lb", as the adverts later famously told. He was often bullied because of his scrawny physique, and became determined to alter the way he looked.

At the age of seventeen, whilst looking at lions in the zoo, Angelo realised that the huge stretches performed by the animals were actually muscle strengthening exercises, and from this theory he developed his "Dynamic Tension" technique. By practicing this himself, he turned himself from a weakling into a muscle man.

After winning the bodybuilding competition "The Worlds Most Perfectly Developed Man", in both 1921 and 1922, the event was cancelled due to lack of competition. In 1924, Charles Atlas published his "Total Fitness and Health Course."

When Charles Atlas met Charles Roman in 1929, the duo decided to start up a business - Charles Atlas Ltd. The company was an innovation regarding the world of health and fitness as well as the mail order industry. Atlas has since been called the "founding father of modern-day body building and fitness."

Just months after the two Charles’ set up the company they were both millionaires, with offices all over the world. They even escaped unharmed from the stock market crash of 1929.

Throughout the decades from the 1920s to the 1960s, Charles Atlas was a media superstar, surrounded by tales of superhuman strength and heroic deeds.

Atlas’ life was recounted in the 1982 biography, 'Yours In Perfect Manhood'. In his prime he was 5’ 10" and weighed 180 lb, and his vital statistics were recorded for posterity as the perfect example of the twentieth century male physique. His measurements were buried in a time capsule at Oglethorpe University.

Charles Atlas died in 1972, but today his courses are still sold to over 70,000 people worldwide, translated into seven different languages. They still retail at $30 cash or $35 credit, just as they did when he began in 1922.

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