A century prior to Instagram, Eugen Sandow used the same techniques to build an empire of fitness. when Eugen Sandow ( pictured) established his very first School of Physical Culture in London in the summer of 1897, Victorian strongman made sure that the decor was in line with his personal style. When he opened 32A St James’s Street, visitors saw a life-size statue of Sandow, the founder of the school. An oil painting in the vicinity depicted Sandow as a renowned gladiator from the past. His sculptured body evoked the essence of Greek style that Sandow considered during his time to be the “perfect man” was determined to embody.
The school’s opening was the start of the Sandow fitness empire. It marked the end in a decade-long period of fame and standing that Sandow was a professional circus strength athlete from Prussia sporting a charming smile and a striking moustache was enjoying since his arrival to Britain around 1889. In 1889, he was awarded an honorary title “strongest human on Earth” after he defeated Charles Samson, a Frenchman. In a bicep-popping challenge held at the London Aquarium, Victorian strongman were able to break chains using their chests, and then lifted an (presumably normal) man’s arm. Sandow won the contest by lifting the 228-pound (127kg) weight using just one hand. Samson could not perform.