Matthew Arnold warned of "the strange disease of modern life" with its "sick hurry" and "divided aims". Out of that came a movement called "Muscular Christianity" which wanted to recreate the kind of heroic human being that existed before industry and the modern world came along and corroded everything.
It was a vision of a restored physical and moral perfection in the young men who were going to run the empire. And it involved doing lots of exercises in new things called Gymnasiums. Then liberal reformers got worried about the working classes - convinced that the slums were leading to a "physical degeneracy" . So they persuaded lots more people to do exercises.
Then a figure rose up who united all of this dramatically into a mass movement. He was called Eugen Sandow.
Sandow came from Prussia, he started as a circus and music-hall performer. But then in the late 1890s he invented something he called "body-building". It caused a sensation throughout Europe and America - and he became a massive celebrity because he was seen as the leader of a crusade of Physical Culture that was going to stop the degeneracy that was plaguing Britain.
Djöfulsins lygar og þvæla! Allir vita að það var hann Adolf sem fann upp body-building.
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