I’ve spent the last three years writing about the origins of bodybuilding as a middle-class pursuit. The project has been a pleasure: I’ve been able to splosh about in seas of Victorian ephemera, most of which did not turn out to be immediately germane, but which were still well worth the wade. As we head into what I consider the cruelest month (really, Eliot, winter may have kept us warm, but the fight to stick to new year’s resolutions is fraught with more potential for heartache than wet feet are in April), here’s some advice from the comic song Oh, Mr. Sandow! (Father’s Been Sandowing in his Gown). Lampooning the famous strongman Eugen Sandow, the song warns about the perils of too much exercise:

At last [Father] left off practicing
But that was worst of all,

For quickly though his muscles rose

More quickly did they fall!

And ere a day or two elapsed 

The change in dad [sic] was dire,

For all his muscles had collapsed

Just like a punctured tyre!

Oh, Mr. Sandow, you’ve a lot to answer for!

Now none of father’s clothes will fit.

They all want “taking in” a bit!

We all thought father’s cranium

Would soon be turned, so mother burned

His model gymnasium.

Do be careful, and happy new year!


4 thoughts on “Sandowing and Other Resolutions

  1. I hope your festivities have been very merry. I’ve tried to keep active over the holidays — I’ve thoroughly cured myself of the reticence that used to keep me from doing stretches in airports.

    I had heard of David Waller’s biography. I’ll have to dip in over the winter — perhaps a review is in order.

  2. A very festive congratulations on being free of your Sandowian (Sandovian?!) commitments, Connie, as pleasurable as the sploshing might have been! And thank you for passing on the excellent advice – moderation in all things is the moral of this story, I suppose?!

    ONWARDS into the new year and all the new adventures it may bring!

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