Fitness Legends: Top 10 Fitness Greats and What They Did

Written By: Todd Kuslikis
October 02, 2011

It’s amazing to think about how one person can literally create an entire movement. I love the idea of “the power of one.” In my class the other day, a debate started as to if one person can make a difference. Some people believed it took groups of people to create change. Others believed that since it started with one person, they are responsible for the shift. The fitness legends below are amazing in every right. Fitness is an industry that has come along way. There have been many ideas, inventions and people that have influenced how we have grown as an industry. The below legends of fitness have been the catalyst for entire movements occuring. This list is my attempt to highlight their fitness accomplishments.

Fitness Legends And Their Accomplishments

10. Joseph Pilates

Fitness Legend Highlights:

-Creator of the world-famous physical fitness method Pilates.

-As a child, Joseph suffered from asthma, rickets, and rheumatic fever.

-As he grew up, he earned his living as a professional boxer, circus performer, and self-defense trainer.

-Founded the first studio in New York City and taught Pilates (originally called Contrology.

-Wrote several books including Return to Life through Contrology and Your Health

-Influenced a movement that created over 11 million regular Pilates practitioners and over 14,000 instructors in the USA alone.

-Died in 1967 at the age of 83 in New York

9. Chuck Norris

Fitness Legend Highlights:

-Inspired the internet phenomen in 2005 known as “Chuck Norris Facts”- ascribing various impossible physical feats to Norris

-Founded martial art Chun Kuk Do

Knee Health Score 1

-Created education associations United Fighting Arts Federation and Kick Start

-Actor in many movies and shows including Walker Texas Ranger, The Delta Force and Firewalker

-Promoter of fitness products including widely successful Total Gym (longest running infomercial selling over $300 million worth)

8. Jane Fonda

Fitness Legend Highlights:

-Starred and produced over 20 exercise videos

-Founded the Jane Fonda Workout video selling over 17 million copies (more than any other home video)

7. Richard Simmons

Fitness Legend Highlights:

-Lost 123 lbs through his interest in fitness and kept it off for 42 years

-Promoter of Sweatin’ to the Oldies aerobics videos and DVDs

-Has been helping people lose weight for over 35 years

-Been said to help humanity lose approximately 12,000,000 lbs

-Written many books including Never Say Diet, Better Body Book, and Steam Away the Pounds

-Promoter of many videos/dvds including Sweatin’ to the Oldies, Tone and Sweat and Dance Your Pants Off!

6. Charles Atlas

Fitness Legend Highlights:

-Developer of the Atlas bodybuilding method

-Highlighted as “The World’s Most Perfectly Developed Man” by Physical Culture magazine

-Posed for many statues including the statue of George Washington in New York’s Washington Square Park, Dawn of Glory in Brooklyns Prospect Park and others

-Inspired world fitness legend Arnold Schwarzenegger

5. Arnold Schwarzenegger

Fitness Legend Highlights:

-Awarded Mr. Universe at age 20

-7 Time Mr. Olympia (1st time one at 23 which is the youngest ever to win a Mr. Olympia title)

-Writer for bodybuilding magazines Muscle & Fitness and Flex

– In several movies including Pumping Iron and the Conan Series

4. Victor “Vic” Tanny

Fitness Legend Highlights:

-Pioneer in the creation of the modern health club

Knee Health Score 2

-Helped rebrand the gym from a macho “sweat house” to a fitness center designed for everyone

3. Bernarr Macfadden

Fitness Legend Highlights:

– Called the “Father of Physical Culture”

-Founded “Physical Culture” a wildly successful fitness publication

-His flamboyant personality and love for fitness helped him to inspire millions of people around the world

-Wrote over 100 books including Physical Training, Strength from Eating, and A Perfect Beauty

2. Jack Lalanne

Fitness Legend Highlights:

-Titled “The Godfather of Fitness” and “First Fitness Superhero”

-At the age of 21, opened one of the nations first fitness gyms

-Invented numerous exercise machines, including the leg-extension and pulley devices

-Produced his own series of videos and The Jack LaLalanne Show (the longest running television exercise program)

-Known of incredible physical feats of strength including badly beating 21 year old Arnold in an informal contest when Jack was 54 years old

-Inducted in the California Hall of Fame

-Lalanne philosophy summed up:

“Living is a pain in the butt. Dying is easy. It’s like an athletic event. You’ve got to train for it. You’ve got to eat right. You’ve got to exercise. Your health account, your bank account, they’re the same thing. The more you put in, the more you can take out. exercise is king and nutrition is queen: together, you have a kingdom.”

1. Paul Bragg

Fitness Legend Highlights:

-Pioneer of America’s wellness movement

-Inspiration behind Fitness Legend Jack Lalanne

-Founder of the Bragg Health Crusades – a tour where Bragg inspired millions throughout the world and taught exercise and physical fitness

-Fitness advisor to top Olympic stars

-Wrote many wildly successful books including “The Miracle of Fasting” and “Live Food Cook Book and Menus”.

Show/Hide Comments (2 comments)
  1. Wade Abawi

    What about Joe weider and Bruce lee ?

    • Todd Kuslikis

      Hi Wade, Yes both should definitely be on the list. Thanks for the post.

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *