HISTORICAL SPOTLIGHT: CHARLES ATLAS

If you squint, hard, he has just initiated The Boomerang; or maybe The Hip Circles?

Remember those little ads in the back of magazines, with the scrawny guy who, after having sand kicked in his face, vows secret revenge and orders an exercise program by mail?

You probably don’t, but it did happen back in the late 1920’s…..and onward through the 1960’s (rings a bell).

In fact, many bells ring; this guy’s general outline resembles that of J. Pilates rather closely.

Both were European immigrants of the 1920’s; Atlas (born, Angelo Siciliano in 1892) emigrated to the U.S. from Italy.

Both developed systems of exercise, although only one has really achieved permanent status; I wonder why Charles’ program fell off of the map.

It is likely due to the fallout that follows any aggressive marketing scheme. The trend is reduced to a fad, that is knocked down by subsequent trends.

Both lived in the New York Metropolitan area; Pilates in Manhattan, Atlas in Brooklyn.

Did they ever meet?

This is a good question but we do know that he worked with Max Baer Sr.

Yes, he even taught Jethro’s dad.

He died in 1972, a few years after Pilates.