Charles Atlas, originally born Angelo Siciliano on October 30, 1892, was an Italian-American bodybuilder renowned for creating a bodybuilding method and associated exercise program that became the focal point of a landmark advertising campaign. This campaign, featuring his name and likeness, is considered one of the longest-lasting and most memorable in advertising history.
Atlas transformed his physique from that of a “scrawny weakling” to become the most popular bodybuilder of his era. Inspired by a friend’s observation that he resembled the statue of Atlas atop a Coney Island hotel, he adopted the name “Charles Atlas” and legally changed it in 1922. Collaborating with health and fitness writer Frederick Tilney, Atlas introduced his first bodybuilding course in November 1922. Initially operated from Tilney’s home, the business evolved, and in 1929, advertising professional Charles P. Roman acquired Tilney’s share, leading to the establishment of Charles Atlas Ltd.
As of 2023, Charles Atlas Ltd. continues to market a fitness program designed for the “97-pound (44 kg) weakling.” The company’s enduring success is a testament to the effectiveness and longevity of Atlas’s innovative approach to bodybuilding. Ownership of the company has passed to Jeffrey C. Hogue, ensuring the continued influence of Charles Atlas in the realm of fitness.
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