From the 1930s to the 1980s, the capital of weightlifting in America was York, Pennsylvania, the home of the York Barbell Company. Bob Hoffman, the founder of York Barbell, propagated an ideology of success for Americans seeking physical improvement. Often called the "Father of World Weightlifting," Hoffman was a pioneer in marketing barbells and health foods. He popularized weight training and inaugurated a golden age of American weightlifting. Muscletown USA—part biography, part business history, and part sports history—chronicles how Hoffman made York the mecca of manly culture for millions of followers worldwide.
Hoffman created his so-called muscle empire out of an oil-burner business that he started in the early 1920s. Within a decade, his passion for sport exceeded his need to produce oil burners and by the outset of the Depression he began manufacturing barbells at the factory. He soon discovered a willing public of aspiring weightlifters like himself who would buy not only barbells but also health and fitness products. Hoffman soon recruited a remarkable group of athletes, whom he tagged his "York Gang." He gave these men jobs in the factory, where they trained for national and international meets. Gradually, Hoffman emerged as one of the most prominent muscle peddlers in America, using his fame and fortune to promote competitive weightlifting, bodybuilding, and powerlifting. Muscletown USA reveals other innovations in which Hoffman played a major role, including weight training for athletes, health foods, bottled spring water, isometrics, and women's weightlifting. Even anabolic steroids, first used by weightlifters in the early 1960s, were a direct outgrowth of the fitness culture spawned by Hoffman.
Meticulously researched and engagingly written, Fair's book will appeal to a wide range of readers, including anyone fascinated by American sports history and the iron game.