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DdlR
2/17/2009 2:32pm,
Looking at these antique pictures of gyms from the 19th century, I can't help but think that we've lost something over the past hundred-odd years.

http://www.marclink.com/images/lithograph_gymnasium.jpg
http://www.lib.uidaho.edu/govdocs/timeline/1906%20Gymnasium%201-54-6.jpg
http://www.gjenvick.com/images/CunardLine/1912/Brochure/FranconiaAndLaconia/Photo-11-TheGymnasium-500.jpg
http://www128.pair.com/r3d4k7/1793GutsMuthsGymEquip2.jpg

Fitz
2/17/2009 2:37pm,
My great-grandpappy's gym was a farm.

Gyms were for rich folks whose lives were insulated from hard work.

That hasn't changed.

DdlR
2/17/2009 2:48pm,
True. Public gyms didn't really take off until after the Industrial Revolution, when a sizable chunk of the population found that they didn't need to do hard physical exercise in their daily lives.

adouglasmhor
2/17/2009 4:47pm,
http://img.villagephotos.com/p/2005-8/1070113/greengym.jpg
Outdoors in Glasgow, It finally shut down when I was 17. I once saw a guy scrape the ice of a wooden bench before doing presses.

Yojimbo1717
2/17/2009 4:53pm,
Not to mention people were actually, you know, doing legit. exercises instead of bullshit machines like the TOTAL GYM and the BOWFLEX.

SBG-ape
2/17/2009 4:55pm,
I think the early gyms tended to be more gymnastic then the current treadmill filled versions.

One of my favorite summaries of historical European fitness methods was a medieval text that stated young knights & soldiers stayed fit by running, swimming, tumbling, lifting & throwing stones, wrestling & fencing. Doesn't that sound like more fun then a "spinning" class?

DdlR
2/17/2009 4:59pm,
More old-school outdoor gyms:

Note wrestlers in the center:

http://www.thule-italia.org/Nordica/ImmaginiVolkish/turnplatz.jpg

http://www.sportunterricht.de/lksport/turnplatz.gif

http://www128.pair.com/r3d4k7/1818Hassenheide2.jpg

http://www.nawgjwa.com/pictures/germanTurnverein.jpg

DdlR
2/17/2009 5:01pm,
I think the early gyms tended to be more gymnastic then the current treadmill filled versions.

One of my favorite summaries of historical European fitness methods was a medieval text that stated young knights & soldiers stayed fit by running, swimming, tumbling, lifting & throwing stones, wrestling & fencing. Doesn't that sound like more fun then a "spinning" class?

It does to me. That same philosophy of holistic, skill-based fitness extended right through to the early 20th century; the specializations of aerobics, weightlifting etc. are modern developments.

In a typical gym around 1890 you could learn boxing, wrestling and several types of fencing; test your skill and courage on gymnastics equipment; swing Indian clubs and lift dumbbells and barbells, etc. And many "physical culturists" actually did all those things, rather than specializing in single sports or types of exercise.

Jack Rusher
2/17/2009 6:35pm,
This thread reminds me of Galen's prescriptions in De Sanitate Tuenda:

Strength

Digging
Dead Lift
Farmer Walks
Hill climbing
Climbing a rope using hands and feet
Hanging-onto a rope or beam for as long as possible
Holding the arms straight out in front with fists closed
Holding the arms straight up with fists closed
Holding out the arms while a partner pulls them down
^^^ The last three also done with weights in hand
Breaking loose from a wrestling waist-lock
Holding onto a person trying to escape from the waist-lock
Picking up a man and swinging him around
Pummeling
Hanging from anotherís neck, attempting to drag him down
Pull guard, try to apply a choke or neck crank (wrestling was a popular sport at the time)
^^^ The same from half-guard
^^^ The same from grapevine


Speed

Running
Shadow-boxing
Hitting punching bags
Boxing
Throwing and catching a small ball while running
Running back and forth, reducing the length each time by a little until finished
Something that sounds like a Hindu squat
Rolling on the wrestling-ground rapidly (ukemi?)
Rapidly changing places with people in a tightly packed group
Jumping up and kicking both legs together backwards
Kicking the legs forward alternately
Move the arms up and down rapidly with open or closed fist, increasing in speed


Explosiveness

Digging rapidly
Casting the discus
Jumping repeatedly with no rest
Throwing heavy spears and moving fast while wearing heavy armour
Any of the Strength exercises executed rapidly


General Fitness

Walking
Bending up and down repeatedly at the hips
Dead Lift
Holding up an object for a long time
Full and loud breathing (?)
Weighted windmills


... most of this is completely orthodox today.

KO'd N DOA
2/23/2009 10:39am,
Really like the pictures...new to me. From what I gather, in Back then, people had large families (like 14 brothers) and they always were wrestling and fighting, outdoors, however Kicking was frowned somwhat frowned upon as unsportsmen like.

meataxe
2/23/2009 12:52pm,
The first image... those were manly men!

By the second image, you can see they are already pussified with those thick cushy mats on the floor.

Lonestar
2/23/2009 1:04pm,
Notice the lack of isolation exercises and split routines.

RoninPimp
2/27/2009 11:21pm,
Looks like a bunch of ancient CrossFit gyms...

DdlR
2/28/2009 5:01am,
Crossfit is rediscovering the default approach to "physical culture" of the 19th century; train everything ...

DAYoung
2/28/2009 6:45am,
Great stuff. Thanks, DdlR.

I'd love to see similar detail in reconstructions of Classical Athenian gymnasia. (Your great-great-great-....great-great-grand-pappy's gym.)

Obviously the Greek gymnasiums were more general educational institutions. Nonetheless, their level of physical culture was quite high.

And, given the Greek influence on Galen, it'd be interesting to see what exercises they did. Presumably you could pull references from Archaic, Classical and Hellenistic texts - literary, political and medical.

Anyone have any data on this? (And I don't mean the recent trireme studies.) I suspect there's a great deal written on their sport in general, but not on their training regimes.

DdlR
3/07/2009 5:25pm,
The Hegeler Carus mansion (LaSalle, Illinois) includes an original gym built in the year 1876. It was basically untouched throughout the 20th century and still contains a great deal of antique exercise equipment (climbing poles, "Roman rings", Indian clubs etc.)

There is now a project on to restore the Hegeler Carus gym as a "living museum" of 19th century physical culture, including demonstrations and practical classes. There's a PDF of the work in progress at
http://www.hegelercarus.org/Documents/MicrosoftWord-Websiteinformation.pdf