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Ben Weider Reminisces On The Early Days Of Bodybuilding.

Weider, spent much time corresponding and visiting with the world's physical fitness authorities. Here Weider talks exclusively about a Edmond Desbonnet, whom some consider to be the leader of the Physical Culture Movement.

During the formation of the International Federation of Bodybuilding & Fitness (IFBB), Ben Weider, President of the IFBB, spent much of his time corresponding and visiting with the world's leading physical fitness authorities.

His goal was to exchange information with experts and organize their bodybuilding efforts under the sanction of the IFBB. In 1946, several months after World War II ended, Weider traveled to Paris, France, to visit the "Father Of French Bodybuilding," Professor Edmond Desbonnet.

The Father Of French Bodybuilding

In the late 1940's, few people considered experts in physical fitness were as well known and respected as Professor Desbonnet.

Bodybuilding pioneer, Professor Desbonnet (1868-1953) a distinguished gym operator, physical fitness trainer, journalist and athlete in France, strongly believed that having a healthy body was just as important as having a well-developed mind.

Click Image To Enlarge.
Professor Desbonnet Espoused Healthy Bodies & Minds.
View Thousands Of Pics From The Olympia Weekend Here!

This passionate conviction made him the most prominent figure of his time in promoting the benefits of a bodybuilding lifestyle to the French people as well as throughout Europe.

Professor Edmond Desbonnet:
By the end of the 1800's, Professor Edmond Desbonnet had brought his theories and practices of "Physical Culture" to the European upper class. The decadence of the time resulted in people far more concerned a wealthy life than a healthy one. Using Stereo Photography, Desbonnet captured the proud men & women who had embraced his Fitness Centra. At the height of popularity he had over 200 Centra across Europe.


Desbonnet shared his love and enthusiasm for physical perfection by writing many books and articles including La Force Physique (1904), Les Rois de la Force (1911) and Pour Devenir Fort et le Rester (1918).

His thoughts and teachings related to physical fitness also appeared in popular magazines such as La Culture Physique (1904-1971) and La Santa par les Sports (1911-1924).

During his time with Professor Desbonnet, Weider spent many hours discussing various weight-training techniques. "Professor Desbonnet was obsessed with strength and improving one's physical conditioning," Weider said.

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"We spent hour after hour debating the ideal training program and during our conversations, Professor Desbonnet provided me with great insight related to French bodybuilding training routes.

As a testament to his long-lasting influence on physical fitness in France, Professor Desbonnet is still commonly referred to as the "Leader of the Physical Culture Movement."

Bench Press Competition

Desbonnet Helped Build The Culture That Celebrates
Strength & Physical Conditioning.
In That Spirit, The Gakic Bench Press Competition
Was Seen At The 2005 Olympia Expo.

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"He was very instrumental in helping me persuade French bodybuilders to join the IFBB and to this day, France continues to be one of our strongest members. I truly appreciate the advice and support Professor Desbonnet provided," Weider said.

Click To Enlarge.
In This Rare Photo Taken From The IFBB Archives,
Weider Is Seen Visiting With Professor Desbonnet
At 5 De La Varenne, In Paris.


Who Are The Weiders?

If you think that Canada's contribution to sports stops with hockey, you've got another thing coming. In the 193Os, a slightly built boy named Joe Weider and his younger brother Ben couldn't make it home from school through their tough section of Montreal without being beaten up or picked on by neighborhood hooligans.

An ad by Charles Atlas caught their eye; they were sick of being '9O-pound weaklings'; and they tried his calisthenics program. When that didn't do much to make either their muscles bigger or the bullies go away, they turned to Strength & Health, a magazine published by strongman-competition promoter Bob Hoffman.

As they grew into young men, the brothers set about building strong bodies with a set of barbells made with parts found in a junkyard. They soon discovered that lifting weights made more than their biceps and triceps bigger.

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"You Are My Life," Weider Says,
As Larry Scott, Sergio Oliva & Arnold Schwarzenegger
Watch & Support Their Mentor.

It also built self esteem, which, as it turned out, was the real key to beating bullies. They didn't realize it then, but this passion for exercise marked the beginning of a career for both of them, one that would ultimately impact the lives of millions and launch an international sport

The Weiders are the undisputed pioneers of bodybuilding, whose guiding missionary zeal has turned a once marginalized activity into a competitive and mainstream sport, one that may well number among the Olympic competitions one day.

In 1995, for example, bodybuilding moved one step closer towards IOC recognition when it was one of the events participating officially at the Pan American Games in Argentina.

But perhaps most important has been the Weiders' impact on the health and well being of millions on nonathletes: "Ours is not simply a sport, it is a lifestyle," Ben explains. "This is our contribution, our life and our dedication."