He brought attention to the sport at a time when body fitness and development was not a part of American sensibility.
What began as a personal quest to improve his health, became a lifelong ambition to assist others in their quest for physical fitness and self-improvement.
Bob Hoffman grew up in Pittsburgh as a skinny, sickly kid, but it is the transformation that he went through in his twenties, in York, that became the principle of the philosophy that he would purport for the remainder of his life.
In his twenties, Hoffman bought a single barbell and with it recreated his image through an intense physical training regimen. His focus on physical self-improvement, and the transformation he went through, laid the ground work for his future fitness empire.
Bob Hoffman did much to promote his sport of weightlifting and bodybuilding through education and competition, inspiring others to follow his model of self-improvement. Hoffman believed in weightlifting as a way of life and he encouraged others to take up the sport.
He coached a team of lifters from York to a gold medal in the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics. The attention that came from achieving a gold medal at the Olympics changed the perceptions of weight lifting in America. Suddenly the sport was legitimized and credible for the average American to pursue and Hoffman saw the opportunity that this provided.
For Hoffman, weightlifting became a metaphor for transformation and self-improvement, helping to create a culture of health and fitness. The passion Bob Hoffman brought to the sport is also the passion he brought to the business of promoting the sport. Hoffman’s marketed this passion through his business, York Barbell Corporation.
Bob Hoffman developed the premier weightlifting equipment at the time, but his empire went beyond the barbell. His corporation produced magazines such as, Strength and Health, from which he would advocate the benefits of fitness and health as a lifestyle choice.
His company was an advocate for healthy living long before it was adopted by popular culture, producing and promoting self-help courses, health foods, diet supplements and dozens of books.
Because of his unwavering commitment to the idea of fitness as a means to self-improvement and a better life, Hoffman was appointed as an official advisor to the President’s Council for Physical Fitness in youth.
Bob Hoffman is the epitome of the self-made man. Not only did he recreate his body image to become the perfect specimen of fitness, he created an empire built on the philosophy of self-improvement as means by which to create a better life.
He transformed himself to become the legendary weightlifting and body building expert of his time, building a corporation modelling his belief in the benefits of healthy living, through fitness and nutrition.
Bob Hoffman died on July 18th 1985 from heart disease.
The York Barbell Company houses the official Weightlifting Hall of Fame and Museum, and outside of its entrance is a seven and a half foot bronze statue, paying tribute to Bob Hoffman, the “Father of World Weightlifting”.
Bob Hoffman Interview