Benjamin R. Pollack
Ben is examining the history of the fitness industry, with emphasis on physical culture and entrepreneurship. He plans to research and write about Gold’s Gym, the largest commercial fitness chain and one of the best-known and most important sports landmarks in the world. Gold’s Gym was the first to broaden awareness of bodybuilding and physical culture in the 1960s, and has helped millions of people discover fitness and redefine strength in their lives. Its history has crucial lessons for many Americans struggling to improve their health and fitness today.
By investigating the history of a segment of the fitness industry, Ben hopes to identify factors that drive success and failure in the industry as a whole. He strongly believes that understanding the historical, economic, and cultural trends of physical fitness can help us combat rising healthcare costs in the United States. In particular, his goal is to establish a comprehensive framework for gyms of any size and scope to contribute to physical education and fitness participation programs while remaining financially viable. Although Gold’s Gym has succeeded in many respects, there remains a large market of non-gym goers leading lifestyles largely more sedentary than those typical of the 1960s. That market represents an enormous financial opportunity from not only a revenue perspective, but also a cost-savings one. It provides the chance to increase exercise participation, hopefully lowering rates of heart disease, obesity, and overall healthcare expenditures.
The Powers Fellowship enables Ben the flexibility to conduct research, broaden the scope of his curriculum, and be a part of the H.J. Lutcher Stark Center family. He is grateful for the opportunity he has here to take classes that are most valuable to him while also planning his dissertation, contributing to Stark Center events, and assisting with the publication of Iron Game History: The Journal of Physical Culture. All of that would not be possible without the help of the Powers Fellowship.