Will Charles Atlas make a man out of me?

Click to read the latest Short Story with a Point!

I wrote a story about shortcuts in April 2009, and mentioned the Charles Atlas bodybuilding course as an example of a quick fix that did not work for me as a young boy.  Little did I know, Charles Atlas is a highly searched keyword and this post became the most-viewed on my blog with over 1000 visitors and counting.

I recently got a scathing comment from a Charles Atlas fan who used the patented “dynamic tension” system for over 25 years, claiming success for himself and labeling me as a liar, weakling, idiot and loser.  In fact, it sounded a lot like what the bully would have said after kicking sand in Mac’s face in those classic comic book ads.

I wrote back an apology, acknowledging that I had never heard from someone who so believed in the Atlas system, and he apologized in return for the harsh words.  I also went back and changed the term “evil marketing genius” to just “marketing genius,” as the Atlas fan had made a good point.  It wasn’t Charles Atlas’ fault that I had quit the program.

So what’s a blogger to do, 30 years later?  I looked up Charles Atlas and ordered the course, of course.  The company is still alive, still selling the same content it sold 80 years ago.  I got the package last night and eagerly read the first 2 chapters as instructed.

1920’s English is almost like a different language, with words like “vim” and “vigor” and “make a supreme effort to reach the ceiling.”  And there are photos of the vintage Charles Atlas, pop culture icon and guru, demonstrating each exercise.

Let’s get this out of the way up front.  I saw Rocky Horror Picture Show in college and know about the references made by Frank Furter… about dynamic tension and wanting to “take Charles Atlas by the hand.” Tim Curry was great in that role, but he looked like he just drove 50mph through the Mary Kay drive-up window. I’m doing my best to blot those disturbing images out of my mind, even though that cult movie may be partially responsible for keeping the Atlas company alive today.

I committed to following this program to the letter for 90 days and measuring the results.  Let’s see what happens.  No, let’s see what I can make happen.

Read about my Atlas results here!

Click to read the latest Short Story with a Point!

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Explore posts in the same categories: General, Motivation

6 Comments on “Will Charles Atlas make a man out of me?”

  1. Sinde (Sue) Says:

    I have faith that this time around Charles Atlas will work for your vim and vigor. Even if you are starting a little later than Joe Rollino, he STAYED strong forever.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/12/nyregion/12ironman.html

    • davidgoad Says:

      Wow. Now that’s impressive! I’m just hoping for more pep in my step. I got up at 5am and did the exercises faithfully…again… this morning. This is not going to be easy.

  2. Chris Anthony -Lansdowne Says:

    This is very interesting….. I think David will definately have a story to tell about his adventure with Charles! Go David!!!

  3. Jim Says:

    This was excellent. I, too, did Charles Atlas as a teen. The results weren’t too bad, but not what I’d hoped for. I kept the course all these years so I can start up again if I can get beyond one speed bump which is….

    Did you do the program every day? Most programs today suggest a rest period to build/repair muscle?

    • davidgoad Says:

      Jim, starting up with a session every day gets you in the rhythm and commitment of doing it. Eventually I focused on different muscle groups every other day to allow healing time. I also balanced with running, skating, playing soccer, etc. thetrick is to find what works best for you and stick with it. I don’t think the actual sequence should be followed exactly. I discarded some exercises that I could not do comfortably, and added my own variations, including weights. One more tip… buy an inflatable exercise ball and do core work on it. this prevented strain on my back and neck.
      Good luck!
      David G.

  4. Patrick Says:

    63 years ago when I was a skinny 17 year kid I bought the Atlas course too. I did respond to the press ups and eventually got to doing around a 100 reps morning and night. The other exercises did little.I got good pecs and triceps though.I later bought other courses but I only made progress when I took up weights.


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