Long before the Arnold Schwarzeneggers’ and Don Knotts’ in the body building world, there was Charles Atlas. Holder of the title “World’s Most Perfectly Developed Man” from 1938 to 1970, Atlas’ transformation from a “97-pound weakling” into a powerfully built man with a multi-million dollar “Dynamic Tension” fitness empire is part of American history..

A Hollywood Beach, Florida resident for the last 28 years, Atlas is now 116 years old and in superb shape. He follows a rigorous workout routine that would exhaust an average 20-year old. “I work out with my Dynamic Tension program three hour a day plus do 500 crunches, 300 push-ups and 50 chin ups, I’m slowing down as I hit middle age,” he said.

Many sources claim Atlas died of a heart attack in 1972 while jogging at age 80. “Hogwash,” says Charles, who lives at the gaudy, yet prestigious Villas of Positano in Hollywood’s posh north beach. “That was just something my publicity department put together years ago to get the women off my back and other parts of my body. I was such a big hunk in those days they named a candy bar after me. It was crazy! I want the girls to know Charlie Atlas is still in circulation.”

Born Angelo Siciliano in Italy in 1892, Atlas moved to Brooklyn in 1905. He worked hard to improve his physique by various exercise techniques. After years of workouts he legally changed his name to Atlas in 1922 after a friend told him he resembled the statue of Atlas on a Coney Island hotel.

The young Charles became infatuated with strength. One day while at the zoo he noticed a tiger stretching. “I remember wondering how animals kept strong,” he recalled “There certainly weren’t any barbells in the cage. I figured they did it by pitting muscle against muscle.”

With that, Dynamic Tension was bom. Atlas’ workout routine has been sold to millions of men around the world. The program features 12 exercises and made him the face of fitness; using his photos to demonstrate the various movements. “I invited my trainees to write and let me know about their progress. I must have gotten over 6 million letters over the years,” he said, “and to this point only 26 had postage due. In the exercise world there are always a few dumbbells out there.”

Source: This article was written by Jeff Hansen for Cahoots Quarterly, Winter 2008/2009 Edition, “The Official Newspaper of… Hollywood Beach and Beyond.” Vol.Three, Issue Ten

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