Charles Atlas exercise regimen  JUL 16 2008

Eschewing all those newfangled diet and fitness trends, Todd Levin tries out Charles Atlas' Dynamic-Tension fitness course, which Atlas began marketing in 1922.

One thing I definitely hadn't counted on was Lesson 2: Nutrition. Here, Atlas outlines his mandatory dietary and lifestyle restrictions -- no caffeine; no refined sugar; no bleached flour; no white rice; no fatty meats; no pickles, mustards, vinegar or other acidic spices; no soft drinks, coffee or tea; no staying up past midnight, ever. Reading that chapter was like having Charles Atlas ask me to list all my favorite things in the world, then grab the list from my hands, crumple it up and toss it -- and some sand -- in my face. (Atlas does make one notable exception for candy: "If you must eat candy at times, be sure it is of the very highest quality." Sounds like someone can't live without his truffles.)

Neither did Levin exercise in the nude as Atlas advised.

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