Top 10: Fitness Icons
For today’s Top 10 I’m taking a look at some of the biggest icons in the health and fitness industry. Today’s list features the 10 people that I believe have had a huge impact on the way we train, the way we eat and the type of exercises we all do. If you follow the fitness world you’ll see gurus come and go, but these true fitness legends stand the test of time.
So here we go…
1. Jack LaLanne – I had to list Jack as number one. Jack may have recently passed away, but his mark on fitness will live on forever. With catchphrases like “anything in life is possible if you make it happen”, and “if man makes it, spit it out”, he was a true educator and motivator and championed the fitness lifestyle way before it was cool. Known as The Godfather of Fitness, Jack lived a life entirely devoted to fitness and made it his mission to share his insights, experience and joy for life with the world.
2. Arnold Schwarzenegger – “The Austrian Oak” changed the face of bodybuilding in the 1970’s and took it mainstream with his charm, cockiness, charisma, and flawless body. I read his biography when I was 14 and it certainly influenced me. The 7 time Mr. Olympia used his brawn to become a celebrity A-lister and international movie star. Starting in 1989, he launched the Arnold Classic in Columbus, Ohio. Now renamed the Arnold Fitness Weekend, the expo is a true fitness buff’s dream.
3. Eugene Sandow – Few people know who Sandow is, but he was arguably the world’s first bodybuilder, paid to flex his muscles and perform feats of strength. The Prussian born Sandow also created The Institute for Physical Culture, the first gym for bodybuilders in 1897 and held the very first bodybuilding show in 1901. He died in 1925, and if you’re into fitness, you should know who he is.
4. Joe Gold – Recognize the name? You should! Joe, a young boy who turned bodybuilder after seeing his sister lift buckets of water to shape her arms, eventually headed to Muscle Beach and opened Gold’s Gym. A true landmark and “Mecca of Bodybuilding” for anyone who’s worked out there. Joe used the machinist skills that he acquired from the merchant marines and designed/built his own equipment. I still have my old magazines with photos of him and Arnold together.
5. Denise Austin – A former gymnast, this Californian became a national fitness celebrity. She’s served on the Presidents Council on Physical Fitness, and has featured in numerous dvds, books, and endorsements as well as shows on ESPN and Lifetime. Denise is a believer in being fit and healthy naturally while emphasizing portion control and realistic expectations. Sound familiar? Most recently, I’ve seen her in potato commercials singing their nutritional praises.
6. Joe Weider – Joe was a skinny boy that got bitten by the weight lifting bug early, and made do with car tires and axles for weights. He is best known for his magazine empire, most notably Muscle & Fitness, but insiders know that in 1961 he first co-founded the IFBB, the professional organization for body builders and is the man who discovered Arnold Schwarzenegger and brought him to the US. The impact Joe has had on promoting fitness and health is immeasurable. And bringing Arnold to the States – priceless!
7. Cory Everson – Cory is to women’s bodybuilding what Arnold is to men’s. She had graceful lines, a feminine presence and was a great ambassador to the sport. Plus, unlike today’s female bodybuilders, she looked like a woman! She’s won the coveted Ms. Olympia title 6 times and I still remember watching her on ESPN demonstrating workouts and talking fitness. She now has her own line of equipment ranging from kettlebells and treadmills to bands, and balls. Cory continues to be active in the fitness world and a positive role model.
8. Richard Simmons – Sure he’s a tad crazy, flamboyant and eccentric, but so what? The short, short wearing, frizzy haired Simmons has helped hundreds of thousands of people feel better about themselves and lose weight through his many series of workout tapes, most notably “Sweatin’ to The Oldies”. Richard became interested in fitness when he found himself over 100 pounds overweight and was unhappy with the fad diets on the market. He opened his own gym, “Slimmons” (genius) in Beverly Hills, and catered to people that were extremely overweight. Richard quickly became a cultural icon, and has maintained his weight loss, along with his status in American culture.
9. Arthur Jones – Know who Jones is? He’s the creator of the famous Nautilus gym equipment. Contrary to the typical bodybuilding ethos of the time, Arthur’s philosophy was very different; use just one high intensity set of exercise on his machines for maximal strength and muscle growth. From 1970 on, it was hard to find a gym that didn’t have Nautilus gear in it and he sparked an entire industry of exercise equipment manufacturers. In fact during my very first job as a Fitness Expert at the age of 17, I demonstrated the Nautilus “circuit” to new members and used it myself. Ah, good times.
10. Kiana Tom – I used to watch Kiana years ago on Flex Appeal, her show on ESPN. Her show had such great ratings that ESPN signed on and developed more programs geared around her. The former Oakland Raiders cheerleader is now a mom of two, and as such has developed a new show, Fit Mom TV. She has her own website, with a blog, cooking tips, home gym workouts, and numerous other great fitness advice. I have to admit, I had a poster on my bedroom wall.
So what do you think? Who else should join the list? Send over your thoughts…
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