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This article examines the career of the Indian physical culturist, K.V. Iyer, and situates his writings from the 1920s and 1930s within a transnational community between India and the United States. Iyer ran several gymnasiums, offered health advice, and sold books and mail-order courses across India and internationally. Previous studies have focused on his yogic practices and anti-colonial thinking, with less attention given to his place in the global bodybuilding community. While his writings were sometimes suffused with political rhetoric, his vision of the ideal citizen was derived from his immersion in Western scientific ideas around physiology and anatomy and his ongoing communication with American physical culturists. Studying a global health community between India and the United States, which first found expression through yoga and the Young Men Christian Association, this article positions Iyer as a leading figure in a global exchange of Indian and American ideas concerning the muscular body.
Ramachandran is with the School of Kinesiology, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. Heffernan is with the Department of Kinesiology and Health Education, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, USA.