The world went sports crazy in the first quarter of the 20th century. The first modern Olympics had just been held in 1896, inspiring new interest in athletics and the Ancient Greek physical ideal.
The relatively new science of physiology – the study of the physical and biochemical systems of the body – provided criteria for how the body should perform. This new emphasis on the link between health and exercise inspired a growing culture of physical improvement.
Several individuals developed their own personally branded exercise systems. These ‘celebrity trainers’ often used themselves as proof of the success of their system, from the military and medical origins of P H Ling's Swedish gymnastics, to the self-improving daily routine of J P Müller, and the showmanship and mass appeal of Eugen Sandow's bodybuilding. Exercise was not only a trend for men: Genevieve Stebbins was one of a number of women who developed exercise systems suitable for the modern woman.