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From Milo to Milo: A History of Barbells, Dumbells, and Indian Clubs

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Abstract

During my dissertation research on the history of women's exercise in the nineteenth century, I kept turning up references to an exercise in which the trunk is alternately bent and straightenecd. 4 dumbells, barbells, and other early resistance apparati in unexpected Halteres varied greatly in appearance and composition during the era modern historians refer to as Ancient Greece. Accord-places. In some instances, the printed references were surprising because of the early date at which they were published. In other ing to John Blundell's The Muscles and Their Story, published in 1864, the author, Pausanius, "described the halteres as of roundish instances, the references surprised me because of the manner in which the implements were used. After searching unsuccessfully for or oblong figure, not perfectly round and that in using them the fin-an authoritative text which would allow me to place these references gers were placed as if in the handle of a shield." Another ancient writ-in proper historical perspective, I decided to attempt the following er, Blundell explained, "mentions the use of wax in this respect. . . brief history of these hand-held weightlifting appliances. I do not In the palaestra these were called halteres, and to make them heavier doubt that I may be overlooking parts of this evolutionary tale, and they were sprinkled with particles of lead." Some ancient texts, Blun-I welcome your additions and corrections. dell reported, even applied the term halteres to the weapon used by David to slay the Biblical giant Goliath, which would suggest that Halteres, Dumbells, and Other Early Implements the reference is to the object cast or thrown by the sling. 5 Although the ancient Egyptians, the ancient Chinese, the In the second century AD., the Greek physician Galen pub-lished his thoughts on the therapeutic benefits of exercise in De ancient Indians, and many other early peoples practiced resistance exercise, credit has tradi-tionally been given to the ancient Greeks for pro-ducing the forerunners of our modern weight training equipment. 1 According to Norman E. Gardiner's Athletics of the Ancient World, the land that produced calf-carrying Milo of Cro-tona—the so-called father of progressive resis-tance exercise—had three weighted implements by the fifth century B.C. 2 The diskos and javelin were thrown for distance while the hand-held alteres or halteres were used as a jumping aide and for purposive drill. "Indeed," Gardiner wrote, "[the halteres exercises] were probably taught as a musical drill, for as we have seen, the time in these exercises was commonly given by a flute player. The jumping weights were. . . used much in the same way as dumbbells . . . for ath-letes are often seen swinging them in attitudes which can hardly have any connexion with jump ing. " 3 According to Gardiner, the writings of Antyllos described three different types of hal-Sanitate Tuenda, a medical text which remained influential into the nineteenth century. Galen discussed using halteres for a variety of jump-ing exercises—broad jumps, high jumps, jump-ing from low to high places, etc.—and also described exercises which involved bearing weighted implements upon the shoulders, head and feet. According to Blundell, these "body" weights—seen in the accompanying illustra-tions—were called plummets and were used in exercises to systematically strengthen the body. 6 Galen also recommended training with wooden implements; a piece of wood "with a piece of lead enclosed" should be used by gout patients, Galen wrote, until they were strong enough to use heavier implements. 7 teres exercises: "bending and straightening the DETAIL FROM THE "BIKINI GIRLS" MOSAIC
From Milo to Milo:
A History of Barbells, Dumbells,
and Indian Clubs
by Jan Todd, Ph.D.
During my dissertation research on the history of women’s
exercise in the nineteenth century, I kept turning up references to
an exercise in which the trunk is alternately bent and straightenecd.
4
dumbells, barbells, and other early resistance apparati in unexpected
Halteres varied greatly in appearance and composition
during the era modern historians refer to as Ancient Greece. Accord-
places. In some instances, the printed references were surprising
because of the early date at which they were published. In other
ing to John Blundell’s
The Muscles and Their Story,
published in
1864, the author, Pausanius, “described the halteres as of roundish
instances, the references surprised me because of the manner in
which the implements were used. After searching unsuccessfully for or oblong figure, not perfectly round and that in using them the fin-
an authoritative text which would allow me to place these references
gers were placed as if in the handle of a shield.” Another ancient writ-
in proper historical perspective, I decided to attempt the following er, Blundell explained, “mentions the use of wax in this respect. . .
brief history of these hand-held weightlifting appliances. I do not
In the palaestra these were called halteres, and to make them heavier
doubt that I may be overlooking parts of this evolutionary tale, and
they were sprinkled with particles of lead.” Some ancient texts, Blun-
I welcome your additions and corrections. dell reported, even applied the term
halteres
to the weapon used by
David to slay the Biblical giant Goliath, which would suggest that
Halteres, Dumbells, and Other Early Implements
the reference is to the object cast or thrown by the sling.
5
Although the ancient Egyptians, the ancient Chinese, the
In the second century AD., the Greek physician Galen pub-
lished his thoughts on the therapeutic benefits of exercise in
De
ancient Indians, and many other early peoples
practiced resistance exercise, credit has tradi-
tionally been given to the ancient Greeks for pro-
ducing the forerunners of our modern weight
training equipment.
1
According to Norman E.
Gardiner’s
Athletics of the Ancient World,
the
land that produced calf-carrying Milo of Cro-
tona—the so-called father of progressive resis-
tance exercise—had three weighted implements
by the fifth century B.C.
2
The diskos and javelin
were thrown for distance while the hand-held
alteres
or
halteres
were used as a jumping aide
and for purposive drill. “Indeed,” Gardiner wrote,
“[the halteres exercises] were probably taught
as a musical drill, for as we have seen, the time
in these exercises was commonly given by a
flute player. The jumping weights were. . . used
much in the same way as dumbbells . . . for ath-
letes are often seen swinging them in attitudes
which can hardly have any connexion with jump
ing.
3
According to Gardiner, the writings of
Antyllos described three different types of hal-
Sanitate Tuenda,
a medical text which remained
influential into the nineteenth century. Galen
discussed using
halteres
for a variety of jump-
ing exercises—broad jumps, high jumps, jump-
ing from low to high places, etc.—and also
described exercises which involved bearing
weighted implements upon the shoulders, head
and feet. According to Blundell, these “body”
weights—seen in the accompanying illustra-
tions—were called plummets and were used in
exercises to systematically strengthen the body.
6
Galen also recommended training with wooden
implements; a piece of wood “with a piece of
lead enclosed” should be used by gout patients,
Galen wrote, until they were strong enough to
use heavier implements.
7
teres exercises: “bending and straightening the
D
ETAIL FROM THE
“B
IKINI
G
IRLS
MOSAIC
As they did with most aspects of Greek
culture, the Romans copied the Greek methods
and implements of physical training. More war-
like in nature than the Greeks, Roman males
trained for military fitness rather than for athlet-
ic prowess or physical beauty. Interestingly, a
fourth century A.D. mosaic from the Piazza
arms, an exercise which strengthens me arms
FROM THE
P
IAZZA
A
RMERINA,
V
ILLA
R
OMANA
Armerina in Sicily suggests that some Roman
and shoulders;” a lunging exercise with the hal-
D
EL
C
ASALE.
T
HIS MOSAIC DATES TO THE
women may have used halteres in their physical
teres held at arms-length in front of the torso; and
SECOND CENTURY, A.D.
training.
Although hisorians are not sure whether
4
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T
HESE ILLUSTRATIONS FROM
H
IERONYMUS
M
ERCURIALIS
SIXTEENTH CENTURY WORK
, D
E
A
RTE
G
YMNASTICA
,
SHOW DUMBELLS
,
HEAVY PLATES
,
AND
the mosaic commemorates a dance troupe or a group of women
athletes, there can be little doubt that the bikini-clad woman in the
accompanying illustration is holding a pair of dumbells in her hands.
8
Although systematic exercise sharply declined with the fall
of the Roman empire, Galen’s writings endured, and managed to keep
alive the idea of resistance implements. In 1531, Sir Thomas Elyot
published the The
Boke Named the Governor,
and urged his Renais-
sance contemporaries to look to Galen’s
De Sanitate Tuenda
for
exercise advice. For exercise at home, Elyot wrote, men should try
walking, “labouring with poises [weights] made of lead or other metal
called in latin
alteres,
lifting and throwing the heavy stone or bar,
playing at tennis, and divers semblable exercises.” Other Renais-
9
sance authors also made mention of resistance training. The French
philosopher Rabelais [1484-1553], for instance, described fantastic
feats of strength which were supposedly performed as
art of the
physical training of his fictional character Gargantua.
10
German
educator Joachim Camerarius’
Dialogues des Gymnastica,
published
in 1544, also contained references to weight training.
11
In the time
of the first Queen Elizabeth, John Northbroke wrote a treatise against
gambling and dancing that advised young men to “labor with poises
of lead or other metal.”
12
In the sixteenth century, Michel Montaigne, the famous
French essayist, described his father as a man of great vigor, “of an
upright and well proportioned stature,” who actively pursued fitness
and strength through regular training. According to Montaigne, his
father trained “with hollow staves. . . filled with lead which he was
wont to use and exercise his arms withall, the better to enable him-
selfe to pitch the barre, to throw the sledge, to cast the pole, and to
play at fence.” Montaigne reported that his father also did exercis-
es wearing “shoes with leaden soles,” which he believed helped him
leap, vault, and run more effectively.
13
By far the most important Renaissance text related to exer-
cise was Hieronymus Mercurialis’ De Arte Gymnastica Aput
Ancientes,
which was first published in 1569 in Venice, Italy.
14
Pri-
marily a compilation of ancient ideas on medicine and exercise,
this heavily illustrated text remained in print for more than a century
with subsequent editions appearing in 1573, 1587, 1600, 1614 and
1672.
15
De Arte Gymnastica’s
author was one of the most famous
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PLUMMETS BEING USED FOR TRAINING IN AN ANCIENT
G
REEK GYMNASIUM.
N
OTE THE HEAVY MUSCULATURE OF THE MEN.
physicians of the Renaissance. Educated at Padua, Mercurialis served
as personal physician to Emperor Maximilian II and was knighted
by him in 1573 following a successful cure.
16
De Arte Gymnasti-
ca
introduced to Western thought many of the training principles that
continue to influence contemporary approaches to physical training.
The book revived an interest in Galen and the training methods of the
ancient Greeks: and its numerous illustrations—though primitively
drawn by modern standards—suggest a bodily ideal which could only
be possible through systematic, resistance training.
17
The medical
historian L. H. Joseph noted of
Gymnastica,
“In reality, all the books
on gymnastics [physical training] of the next centuries are based on
this standard work of Mercurialis.”
18
Mercurialis advocated a vari-
ety of exercise methods and exercise devices. He discussed the
advantages of walking, throwing the discus, rope climbing, and ball
games. For purposive training Mercurialis recommended
heavy balls
filled with sand—forerunners of modern medicine balls—and hal-
teres or dumbells.
19
One of the most important aspects of Mercu-
rialis’ text was the shape of the handweights. No longer curved
like the ancient halteres, the dumbells pictured in Mercurialis’ text
resemble two conical pyramids stuck together by their heads.
Mer-
curialis also described the use of the
“tabula plumb”
[plummets], the
heavy sheets of rock or lead
described by Galen hundreds of
years earlier.
20
By the beginning of the
eighteenth century, Mercurialis’
efforts to revive the physical train-
ing methods of the ancient Greeks
had begun to pay dividends.
Dumbell training was once again
becoming an accepted form of
physical training. The British poet
and essaysist, Joseph Addison,
her daughters are so well acquainted with my hours of exercise,
that they never come into my room to disturb me whilst I am ring-
ing.”
22
Unfortunately, exactly what Addison meant by this quota-
tions is no longer clear. Does he refer to the swinging or “ringing”
of an implement similar in appearance and function to our modern
dumbell or does he refer to an implement that more closely resem-
bled a hand-held bell? Were early “dumbells” actually what the word
implies—bell-shaped forms cast from the molds used to make hand
bells but either poured solid or made without a clapper or tongue so
that they were “dumb?” Although every sport historian to whom I
posed this question felt that this explanation for the term was the most
likely, I have not found any historical discussion, or renderings, of
people doing any sort of physical training with bell-shaped imple-
ments prior to 1830, and by that time the word “dumbell” was in com-
mon usage. In fact, the only discussion of using bell-shaped imple-
ments for purposive training that I found appeared in an anonymously
published 1831 text on women’s exercise entitled
A Course of Cal-
isthenics for Young Ladies in Schools and Families With Some
Remarks on Physical Education.
In that book, the author described
using small bells to perform a rhythmic calisthenics movement called
The Spanish Step in which. “bells are
sometimes used, not dumb but
tongueless.
They are made with
a wooden handle and a bell
weighing about a pound. They
are brought together and hit accu-
rately so as to sound.”
23
Addison’s use of “dumb” in
E
ARLY HALTERES, PRECURSORS OF
the second passage most likely
referred to a now archaic use of
the word “dumb-bell,” which
The Oxford English Dictionary
defined as “an apparatus, like that
for swinging a church-bell, but
MODERN DUMBELLS.
[1672-1719] wrote in his magazine,
The
without the bell itself, and thus making
Spectator,
that he learned of dumbell exercises from “a Latin treatise
no noise, in the ‘ringing’ of which bodily exercise was taken.”
24
. . .
written with great erudition,” a statement suggesting his indebt- According to David Webster’s
The Iron Game,
an apparatus of this
edness to the Mercurialis text. On 12 July 1711, Addison explained, sort was used at one time at Lord Sackville’s estate at Knowle, Eng-
“When I was some years younger than I am at present, I used to
land. “The pulley-like apparatus had four iron arms each with a lead-
employ myself in a more laborious diversion . . . it is there called
en ball at the end, like an ordinary hand dumbbell. Although the pul-
. . . the fighting with a man’s own shadow; and consists in the bran- ley apparatus was like a church-bell and the hand weights were like
dishing of two short sticks, grasped in each hand, and loaded with
hand bells, neither rang or clanged so were termed dumb bells.” Con-
plugs of lead at either end. This opens the chest, exercises the limbs timing, Webster added, “Pulleys were also used by those first learn-
and gives a man all the pleasure of boxing, without the blows.”21
ing bell ringing, on these occasions the clapper was tied back to
Although Addison’s description of these hand-held implements coin-
produce dumb-bells.”
25
How common these dumbell machines were
cides with our modern understanding of what is meant by the term is unknown.
“dumbell,” he does not use the word to refer to these wood and iron
These two uses of the term make it difficult to evaluate eigh-
implements.
teenth century references to “dumbells.” Even so, Benjamin Franklin’s
Instead, in the same issue of The Spectator, Addison
surviving letters suggest that what we would recognize as dumbell
described what sounds like an entirely different type of “dumbell”
training played a significant role in his day-today life.
26
In a letter
training. “For my own part, when I am in town,” he wrote, “I exer- to his son dated 19 August 1772, Franklin explained that he favored
cise myself an hour every morning upon a dumb bell that is placed
strenuous exercises which could be done in short periods of time.
in a comer of my room, and [it] pleases me the more because it does
The “quantum of each” type of exercise, Franklin wrote, could be
everything I require of it in most profound silence.
My landlady and judged by the amount of warmth it produced in the body. “There is
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T
HROUGHOUT THE NINETEENTH CENTURY, LIGHT DUMBELLS WERE USED FOR GROUP EXERCISE CLASSES.
T
HIS ILLUSTRATION, FROM
J. M
ADISON
W
AT-
SON'S
H
ANDBOOK OF
C
ALISTHENICS AND
G
YMNASTICS,
PUBLISHED IN
1864,
SHOWS A GROUP OF YOUNG MEN PERFORMING A “GYMNASTIC CHARGE”
UNDER THE WATCHFUL N EYE OF THEIR INSTRUCTOR.
more exercise in one mile’s riding on horseback than in five in a coach
and more in one mile’s walking on foot than in five on horseback,”
he explained. Dumbell training, he told his son, was an excellent way
to produce bodily warmth. “By the use of it, I have in forty swings,
quickened my pulse from sixty to one hundred beats in a minute,
counted by a second watch, and I sup
pose the warmth generally
increases with quickness of pulse.”
27
In another letter, written in
1786 when he was eighty years old, Franklin answered a friend’s
query about his longevity with the statement that “I live temperate-
ly, drink no wine, and use daily the exercise of the dumb-bell.”
28
While the “forty swings” suggests a hand-held implement, there is
no evidence to conclusively prove that it was so. However, John
Paugh’s
A Physiological, Theoretical and Practical Treatise on the
Utility
of Muscular Exercise for Restoring the Power of the Limbs,
published in 1728, offered more satisfying proof of the use of
handweights; it described dumbell exercises similar to our modern
uses.
29
So does Joseph Strutt’s
Sports and Pastimes of the People
of England,
first published in 1802. Strutt quoted both Northbroke
and the part of Addison’s essay describing the hand weights in a sec-
tion in
Sports and Pastimes
on dumbell training. Strutt concluded
that these types of exercises “are sometimes practiced in the present
day and are called ‘ringing of the dumbells.’”
30
In the early nineteenth century, resistance training began to
be incorporated into school physical education programs. J. C. F.
GutsMuths’ 1802
Gymnastics
for Youth contained an interesting
description of an implement similar to the “Weaver-stick,” a device
twentieth-century lifters have used to test wrist and forearm strength.
GutsMuths’ implement consisted of a pair of wooden staffs six-feet
in length and notched at regular intervals.
31
Each had six inch han-
dles. One to two pound weights were then suspended from the notch-
es and moved further out the staff as wrist and shoulder strength
increased. Where the Weaver-stick test required that the arm be kept
straight down at the side so that the weight would be raised by flex-
ing the wrist upward GutsMuths’ devices were used in the manner
of a deltoid raise. “The person lifting is to stand upright, with his
breast projecting forward; hold one of the instruments in each hand,
with a straight arm; raise them slowly, both together, a little above
the horizontal line; and let them down again in same manner. In
the repetition of this exercise, the weight is to be moved further and
further [away
from the body] as long as the strength of the arms
will admit.”
32
To further increase upper body strength GutsMuths
advised holding sandbags either at arms-length in front of the shoul-
ders, with the arms out to the sides in a crucifix position, or with the
arms down at the sides.
33
By 1828, Charles Beck, the German physical educator
who helped introduce German gymnastics to the United States, could
begin a section of dumbell exercises in his classic
A Treatise on Gym-
nast&s with the confident statement, “these [hand-held dumbells]
are too well known to require a particular description.”
34
The “gym-
nasticks” system Beck helped introduce to America grew from the
efforts of a young German schoolteacher named Frederich Ludwig
Jahn. Using GutsMuths’ book and Greek athletic training as his mod-
els, Jahn began holding voluntary outdoor exercise classes in approx-
imately 1809 near his school in Halle. From his early efforts came
German gymnastics or
Turnen,
an exercise system which, from its
outset, incorporated forms of resistance training. Beck’s book, which
was largely responsible for introducing the German system to Amer-
ica included directions for seventeen dumbell exercises, a descrip-
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tion of the same notched stick with weights and sand-bag exercises
suggested by GutsMuths, and two new innovations—an adjustable
weight “dynameometron” and the lifting of a “beam” loaded with
weights. Beck described the latter apparatus as a heavy beam, like a
balance-beam, to which was attached a ring-handle. The beam was
then placed on a stand approximately three feet high, the ring held in
one hand, “the arm being stretched, and held, whilst the beam is
removed from its point of gravity or loaded with weights.”
35
It is
not clear from this description whether Beck intended the lifter to
hold the beam “stretched” overhead as in a press, or, more likely, in
front of the body as in a deadlift.
The “dynameometron” described by Beck consisted of a
heavily built wooden box, three inches high and approximately fif-
teen inches square. Inside the box were partitions creating 144 one-
inch squares into which identical plugs of lead could be placed to vary
the weight. The four squares in the center of the box were removed
to admit an eight inch handle, which was then firmly attached to the
bottom of the box. Beck does not explain how to use this implement,
other than to say that two dynameometrons should be used simulta-
neously to keep the body in balance.
36
Whether these implements
were widely used is not known. They do appear, however, to be
the first resistance appliances specially designed to incorporate the
idea of variable weight.
37
Indian Clubs
In the early nineteenth century a “new” resistance appli-
ance, the Indian club, appeared in England America, and the Con-
tinent.
In the latter part of the eighteenth century, British military
officers stationed in India were struck by the fitness and musculari-
ty of many of the Indian soldiers and policemen. Further inquiry led
to the discovery that the excellent physical condition of the Indians
resulted from systematic training with a variety of wooden clubs.
A contemporary account by one British officer observed, ‘“The won-
derful Club exercise is one of the most effectual kinds of athletic train
ing known anywhere. . . [It is] in common use throughout India. . .
The exercise is in great repute among the native soldiery, police, and
others whose caste renders them liable to emergencies where great
strength of muscle is desirable.”
38
Naturally, many primitive cultures placed value on being
able to lift and swing big clubs. In India and Persia, however, what
began as a survival tactic evolved into a system of physical training
which passed down through the generations and continues to be used
in the late twentieth century.
39
Anthropologist Joseph Alter’s 1992
The gada “is swung in the same way as the jori,” wrote Alter, “except
that only
one gada is swung at a time” and it is permissible to use two
hands.
42
According to Alter, “Those who swing joris and gadas
on a regular basis place a higher premium on the amount of weight
lifted than on the sheer number of. . . [repetitions] swung.”
43
When the British army decided to adopt Indian club train-
ing as part of their physical conditioning program in the early nine-
teenth century, they did not follow the Indians and incorporate both
light-weight clubs for flexibility and quickness and heavyweight clubs
for strength and muscle building. Instead, as Sim D. Kehoe observed
in 1866, the British military adopted “a Calisthenic exercise with light
clubs . . . combining a few of the old Swedish Cure extension move-
ments, more calculated to open the chest, supple the figure, and
give freedom to the muscles, [rather] than to develop strength or impart
practical benefit greater than migh
light Gymnastics then extant.”
44
t be attained by numerous other
The person responsible for introducing Indian club exer-
cises to Europe and America was Donald Walker, author of
British
Manly Exercises
which was published in 1834.
British Manly Exer-
cises was perhaps the most influential book on purposive exercise
published in English during the nineteenth century.
45
A compila-
tion of information on various forms of gentlemanly exercise, Walk-
er’s book contained both the sedate set of light-weight club exercis-
es performed by the British army as well as instructions for more
complicated and vigorous club routines. In 1835, Walker made a
second contribution to the history of club training by introducing the
“Indian sceptre” in his women’s exercise book,
Exercises for Ladies
Calculated to Preserve and Improve Beauty.
Sceptres were mere-
ly smaller and more ornamental versions of the Indian club and
weighed approximately two pounds each. Walker hyperbolically
The Wrestlers Body: Identity and Ideology in North India
exam-
ined this centuries-old form of physical conditioning in some detail.
Alter writes, “Jon [Indian club] swinging is an art akin to wrestling.
Some akharas [clubs] are devoted exclusively to jori swinging . . . In
wrestling akharas, joris are swung for exercise as part of the larger
regime. In jori akharas, swinging is an art in itself. From start to fin-
ish a swing is carefully choreographed.”
40
During his field work for
the book, Alter witnessed a modern wrestler give a club-swinging
demonstration using an eighty kilo [176 pound] jori.
41
The other
weighted implement Alter saw used during his time in North India
is the “gada,” a “heavy round stone, weighing anywhere from ten
I
NDIAN CLUB EXERCISES FROM
D
ONALD
W
ALKER
S
B
RITISH
M
ANLY
E
XER
-
to sixty kilograms, affixed to the end of a meter-long bamboo staff.”
CISES.
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called sceptre exercises “the most useful and beautiful exercises ever
introduced into physical education,” maintaining that they had “vast
advantages over the dumbbells” for women.
46
Although Indian clubs were primarily used for the sorts
of light-weight calisthenics movements first popularized in Walker’s
two books, a “Professor Harrison” of London championed the use of
heavy clubs, which he called “Mugdah’s,” in the 1850s.
47
The
Illus-
trated London News
for 14 August 1852 reported:
We learn that Mr. Harrison first began to use the clubs three
years ago, at which time his muscular development was [not]
regarded as being very great, his measurements being then:
Round the chest, 37 1/2
inches, round the up-
per arm 13 7/8 inch-
es, and round the
forearm 13 l/4
inches. The
clubs with
which Mr. Harri-
son commenced weighed
about seven pounds each; he has
advanced progressively, until be can now
wield with perfect ease two clubs, each weigh-
ing 37 pounds, and his heaviest weighs 47 pounds. The
effect of this exercise on the wielder’s measurements is
bering me, and particularly my boys, who I know will take great
delight as well as receive benefit in using them.”
50
In 1866, Kehoe published
The Indian Club Exercise,
a
beautifully illustrated book which contained, in addition to an easy-
to-follow system of exercise for both men and women, a series of
physique studies showing the benefits of heavy club training.
51
Two
aspects of Kehoe’s book are particularly significant. The first is his
differentiation between the short, light-weight “bat”—a one to four
pound club used in calisthenics drills such as those popularized by
Donald Walker and American exercise proponent Dio Lewis—and
what Kehoe called the “long Club, or Indian Club proper.” Long
clubs might vary in appearance, Kehoe explained, but their length
should be between twenty-four and twenty-eight inches and they
should weigh at least four pounds. Most beginners, Kehoe sug-
gested, could start with a club of around ten pounds.
52
The
petitions and exhibitions. On 1 May 1866, a
solid gold medal cast by the Tiffany Compa-
ny was presented to J. Edward Russell of New
York. According to Kehoe, a panel of judges
found Russell to be the best club swinger at a gym-
other aspect of Kehoe’s book which bears men-
tioning is his discussion of Indian club com-
as follows: Round the chest 42 l/2 inches, the upper arm
15 inches and the forearm 14 inches. At the same time
his shoulders have increased immensely, and the muscles
of his loins, which were weak when he first used the clubs,
are now largely developed and powerful. In short, all the
muscles of the trunk have been much improved by this
exercise.48
Harrison was well-known as a gymnastics teacher
in London and was honored by Queen Victoria for his phys-
ical prowess.
49
He authored a small training guide called
Indian Clubs, Dumb-bells and Sword Exercises,
and in
approximately 1861 he met Sim D. Kehoe, a New York
equipment manufacturer who became so enraptured by see-
ing Harrison “use the mammoth war clubs,” that he vowed
to return to the United States and introduce heavy club train-
ing to America.
In 1862, Kehoe opened a shop and began man-
ufacturing clubs in New York City. To spread the word,
Kehoe—like many an enterprising businessman—sent
free samples of his clubs to prominent individuals in
the hope of securing positive endorsements. John C.
P
ROFESSOR
H
ARRISON
In 1861, Thomas Wentworth Higginson, minis-
ter and exercise advocate, penned an article for the
prestigious
Atlantic Monthly
entitled “Gymnastics.”
The heart of Higginson’s article was a word tour of
a German-style gymnasium—the sort of establish-
ment Higginson believed was needed throughout
America. Higginson allowed his readers to peek in
on the free-hand calisthenics class: toured them past
the gymnastics area where he explained the use of lad-
ders, pommel horses, and parallel bars; and then
showed them the “row of Indian clubs or sceptres.”
After explaining their benefits, he took his readers to
the “masses of iron, laid regularly in order of size,” a
rack of dumbells weighing from four to one hun-
dred pounds. The dumbell, Higginson wrote enthu-
Heenan, for instance, the most famous boxer of the Civil War era, siastically, was “a whole athletic apparatus packed up in the small-
wrote Kehoe, “As an assistant for training purposes, and imparting est space; it is gymnastic pemmican.”
55
With one fifty pound dumb-
strength to the muscles of the arms, wrists, and hands, together in fact
ell, or a pair half that size, Higginson argued, a man could exercise
with the whole muscular system, I do not know of their equal. . . they
nearly every muscle in his body in half an hour.
56
will become one of the institutions of America.” Ulysses S. Grant
Higginson completed his gymnasium tour with a discus-
wrote from Washington to thank Kehoe for a set of rosewood dumb- sion of the health lift recently popularized by Dr. George Barker Wind-
ells and Indian clubs, “Please accept my thanks for your thus remem-
ship, the Harvard-trained physician/lecturer/gym owner/profession-
9
nastics competition at Irving Hall. In another event,
Kehoe reported, Charles Bennett, the “California Her-
cules,” gave an exhibition in which he used twenty
pound clubs “in a variety of movements and held fifty
two pounds in each hand at arms length, with ease.”
53
A drawing of Bennett, “copied from a photograph,”
gives some indication of how such feats might be pos-
sible. The heavy, defined musculature of his upper
body is unusual for the mid-nineteenth century.
The Evolution of the Barbell
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al strongman. Higginson had only praise for the principles of heavy
Halteres et Barres A Deux Main,”
(Large dumbells and bars for two
lifting and this praise, coupled with Windship’s growing popularity,
hands). How heavy these large barbells might have been and how
helped launch a lifting and bodybuilding boom in the early 1860s they were loaded is unknown although Triat reportedly had a dumb-
which saw a number of men besides Windship become intrigued
ell at his gym weighing over two hundred pounds. As the logo for
with the amount of weight they could “put up.”
57
[See “Strength his new enterprise, Triat adopted the emblem of a spherical barbell
is Health,”
IGH
3(September 1993)].
draped with a medallion and ribbon, a fact which suggests the impor-
But what is missing from this obviously well-appointed
tance of the barbell concept to his new gymnasium and training sys-
gym? Barbells. There is not a single mention of this apparatus in tem. His motto was, “For the Regeneration of Man.”
60
Higginson’s article nor in any other English-language book prior to
The bars with spheres of six kilos were used for group exer-
1860 examined by this author. Although the practice of heavy lift-
cise classes.
From the time of Montaigne, wands or light-weight bars
ing was well established by this time, and iron dumbells could be eas-
of various sorts had been used for purposive drill by both men and
ily purchased in many hardware stores, the barbell was still unknown women. Nicholas Andry, for instance, in his 1743 handbook on exer-
on this side of the Atlantic. To find its origins, we must look to cise called
Orthopaedia
showed a young woman training with a
Europe, where professional strongmen had been dazzling the public
wooden wand.61
As calisthenics exercises spread in popularity in
with their feats of strength at least since the beginning of the nine-
the early nineteenth century, lightweight wands and dumbells became
teenth century, and, especially to France, where one
the two most popular implements for group exercise classes for
of these professionals—Hippolyte Triat—had given
both men and women. A female student at Mount Holyoke wrote in
up the sawdust and footlights to open the largest
1837 of the arrival of the “wands . . . not fairy wands, but quite sub-
gym in the world. stantial affairs which we grasped at either end, and carried in various
Hippolyte Triat was born in the small vil- ways holding them over the head, in front and back, etc.
62
Accord-
lage of Saint-Chaptes, France in 1813. Raised
ing to Edgar Mueller, the German system of exercises called
Tur-
nen
also included “exercises with iron bars,” a meter in length
and weighing from two to three kilos.
63
Mueller claimed
that these iron bars, called
Eisenstäbe,
were first introduced
by GutsMuths and were “used for different two handed
lifts, especially for exercises with straight arms (in front.
overhead and back).”
64
by gypsies, Triat worked as a travelling acro-
bat up to the age of fifteen, then went to school
for approximately six years before deciding
to return to the stage as a professional strong-
man. By age twenty-two, he stood 5’10 l/2”
tall and weighed two hundred pounds, mak-
ing him a large man by early nineteenth-cen-
hay standards. In 1840, after carefully sav-
Whether Triat got the idea for his fixed-weight
barbells from these wooden and
iron wands remains unknown, but
Triat undoubtedly influenced the
shape of wooden wands in the last
half of the nineteenth century. After
1860 or so, wands were frequent-
ly depicted with small wooden
globes on their ends. In Professor
ing his theatrical earnings, Triat opened a
gym in Brussels which he managed until
1849. He then moved to Paris and con-
structed an enormous gymnasium unlike
any other in the world at the time. It had
approximately ninety-five hundred
square feet of space on the first floor with
two tiers of balconies above for specta-
tors. Many of Paris' most distinguished
citizens signed up for classes.
58
Although he did not “invent”
them, the first spherical-ended barbells
seen by this author appear in the 1854
illustration of Triat’s gym included in
French historian Edmund Desbonnet’s
Les Rois de la Force.59 As can be
seen in the accompanying enlargement
of this drawing, the wall of Triat’s gym
was covered with barbells, all of
which appear to be of the same size.
In an advertising brochure, Triat
described these implements as
“Bar- C
HARLES
B
ENNETT
,
THE CLUB SWINGING
CHAMPION
OF
S
AN
F
RAN
-
res A Spheres De 6 Kilos,”
(bars with
CISCO, HAD AN UNUSUALLY MUSCULAR PHYSIQUE FOR HIS DAY. ILLUS-
spheres of six kilos), although he also
TRATION FROM
E
D
J
AMES
H
OW TO ACQUIRE
H
EALTH
, S
TRENGTH
included in his equipment list
“Gros
A
ND
M
USCLE
,
1878.
10
Harrison’s training guide, for
instance, the invention of the
“French dumbell” is credited to
‘Trelar,” who, Harrison claimed,
introduced the wooden implement
to the French army. From there,
Harrison reported, the “French
dumbell” was adopted by many
upper-class French schools.65
Dewitt’s Athletic Exercises for
Health and Strength,
a popular
training guide from the 1870s also
referred to wooden wands with
globular ends as “French Dumb-
ells.”66
The earliest use of the term
“barbell” seen by the author
appeared in a little-known, 1870
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6
T
HIS
E
NLARGEMENT
OF A CONTEMPORARY ENGRAVING OF
H
IPPOLYTE
T
RIAT
S
ENORMOUS GYMNASIUM
AT
55
AND
57
R
UE DE
M
ONTAIGNE SHOWS AN
EXER-
CISE CLASS LED BY
T
RIAT
,
WHO FREQUENTLY DRESSED AS A
F
RENCH CAVALIER.
O
N THE WA
LL
BEHIND
T
RIAT A
R
E THE
BARS W
I
TH SPHERES OF SIX KILOS
WHICH HE USED FOR GROUP EXERCISE.
British text called
Madame Brennar's Gymnastics for Ladies, A
Treatise on the Science and Art of Calisthenics and Gymnastic
Exercises.
According to Madame Brennar, who ran a gymnasium
in London at which women wore pantaloons for their training ses-
sions, a “Bar-Bell” was an “appliance [that] partakes partly of the
‘Wand,’ and partly of the ‘Dumb-bell.’” Brennar described the imple-
ments as being four to six feet in length, thicker than an ordinary
wooden wand and with wooden balls on either end.
67
There is no
appreciable difference between Brennar's “barbell” and Harrison’s
“French Dumbells.” Several other late-nineteenth century exercise
manuals also referred to these wooden appliances as “barbells.‘
68
Although Triat used light, fixed-weight barbells for his
group classes in the 1850s, the implement does not appear to have
enjoyed any great popularity until near the end of the nineteenth cen-
tury. Weightlifting experts Edgar Mueller and Edmund Desbonnet
both contend that the Austrian Karl Rappo was the first profession-
al strongman to use globe-ended barbells in his stage act. Little is
recorded of Rappo’s life except that he was was born at Innsbruck in
1800 and died in Moscow in 1854.69 A further examination of
Desbonnet’s Les
Rois de la Force,
our best source
on the history of
nineteenth-century strongmen, revealed that dumbells, cannons,
chains, and block weights were commonly depicted in Desbonnet’s
section on the early nineteenth century. Barbells, however, do not
appear in the illustrations until Desbonnet began describing the lives
of the strongmen who worked in the 1880s
70
The absence of iron
barbells was probably more a lack of supply or difficulties in casting
than a lack of interest in heavy training. As Desbonnet’s book attests,
a number of European men pursued careers as professional strong-
men and countless others embraced the principle of heavy training
for their personal workouts. According to Mueller, the Turner clubs
helped spread the idea of resistance training throughout Germany
in the nineteenth century, and in a few isolated pockets the lifting of
heavy weights became a major focus of the Turner program. “Carl
Schöbig told me,” Mueller wrote, “that in Leipzig’s oldest
Turnverein
[gymnastics club] . . . weightlifting with heavy globe
barbells
was
practiced by the gymnasts (Turners) since 1865.”71
Mueller
explained that Schöbig’s claim was based not on Schöbig’s person-
al experience but on what he had been told by older members of the
Turnverein.
72
Although we do not know what sorts of implements
they used, a weightlifting club had formed in Munich by 1878, and
11
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M
ADAME
B
RENNAR
S
G
YMNASTICS FOR
L
ADIES
,
PUBLISHED IN
1870,
WAS UNUSUAL BOTH FOR ITS USE OF THE WORD
“B
AR
-B
ELL
.”
AND FOR THE
PANTALOONS WORN BY THE WOMEN IN THE ILLUSTRATIONS.
B
RENNAR
'
S
IMPLEMENTS WERE MADE ENTIRELY OF WOOD AND WERE OFTEN USED WITH
A PARTNER, AS SHOWN HERE.
the next year a second club formed at Wandsbeck, near Hamburg.
73
According to Mueller, the first iron barbells used in Ger-
many were massive, heavy implements made with solid globes. These
gave way in the 1870s to “hollow globical bars, filled with sand or
lead.” By the 1880s Mueller wrote, “hollow globe bars, filled with
discs,” were available for purchase in Germany. These were sold,
according to Mueller, in Köln (Cologne) by the firm of Heyden, a
company he believed was one of the oldest equipment manufactur-
ers in Germany. Disc barbells were also sold in this decade by the
Meyer company, located in Hagen.
74
Some historians have credited the German strongman, Pro
fessor Attila [Louis Durlacher]—who assisted Sandow in the early
stages of his career and then opened a gym in New York City in
1893—with the idea of using sand or lead shot inside hollow spheres
to vary the weight of barbells, dumbells and kettlebells.
75
Although
Attila’s stage performances undoubtedly helped to popularize this
type of implement, Boston strongman George Barker Windship is
a much more deserving candidate for the honor of having “invented”
shot-loading weights.
76
In 1859, well in advance of Attila, Wind-
ship decided to tram to see if he could “put up” the greatest weight
on record. He procured two sixty-eight pound “shells” and screwed
them on a wrought-iron handle, creating an empty dumbell of 141
pounds, which was “capable of being increased to 180 pounds by the
simple process of pouring shot into the cavities of the shells, after
having first separated them from the handle.77 Windship also
appears to have the best claim of being the “inventor” of plate-load-
ing equipment. In his quest for size and strength, Windship used his
considerable creativity to develop and patent several exercise devices.
One of these was a plate-loading dumbell which he began marketing
in 1865. Windship’s dumbell could be adjusted from eight to 101
pounds in half pound increments; it sold for $16.00.
78
Although Windship patented his plate-loading design in
1865, his sudden death in 1876 diminished America’s interest in lift-
ing as a form of regular exercise. What is more, many Americans
blamed Windship’s death by stroke at age forty-two on his heavy lift-
ing, a fact which caused a decline in interest in strength training for
several decades. During the 1880s and 1890s heavy dumbells and
barbells were nearly impossible to find in America Peck and Sny-
der’s
Price List of Out & Indoor Sport and Pastimes
for 1886, for
example, offered a good assortment of rowing machines, pulleys,
cable exercisers, and wooden clubs and dumbells; but their iron dumb
ells only went up to fifty pounds in weight. No iron barbells of any
sort appeared in the catalog.
79
Even at the turn of the century, heavy
equipment was not readily available in the United States. The 1902
Sears and Roebucks Catalog,
for instance, only offered dumbells up
for purchase.80
to twenty-five pounds in weight. Again, no barbells were available
Although professional strongmen apparently found indi-
vidual metal workers who created spherical dumbells and barbells
for their shows, the average man who wanted to emulate these show-
men had difficulty finding weight training equipment. In America,
that problem was finally solved by Alan Calvert of Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania, who founded the Milo Barbell Company in 1902.
Strength historian David P. Willoughby considered the advent of the
Milo Company as “the greatest single impetus ever given to weight-
lifting in this country.”
81
The first devices sold by Milo were shot-loading barbells
with canister-shaped “bells” on each end. To change the weight a
wing-nut, shown in the accompanying advertisement from the April
1902 issue of Physical Culture, was un-screwed and the lid
removed.
82
How many of these $7.50 sets sold is not known. How-
ever, customers apparently complained about the amount of time it
took to change the weight by this method. In 1908, Calvert intro-
duced a new model which he called the Milo Triplex.
83
In an adver-
tising brochure from 1909, the four and a half foot Triplex appeared
to be a simple globe barbell when it was fully loaded and ready to lift.
However, removing the outer shells revealed Calvert’s new inno-
vation. The eight and one-half-inch spheres were divided into two
sections. On one side, up to thirty pounds of shot could be loaded
in the end of the globe. On the other side of the divider, iron plates
from twenty-five to two and a half pounds could be added or sub-
tracted to vary the weight. Fully loaded, the bar weighed 105 pounds;
additional handles allowed the Triplex spheres to be used for kettle-
bells or dumbells.
84
W
INDSHP
'
S PLATE
-
LOADING DUMBELL WHICH HE PATENTED ON
14
F
EBRU
-
ARY
1865
. THE BAR COULD B E LOADED FROM EIGHT TO
101
POUNDS IN
HALF POUND INCREMENTS.
12
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6
One of Calvert’s main rivals in the exercise equipment indus-
try was British strongman Thomas Inch, a man historian David Web-
ster called “the first to introduce plate barbells and dumbells.”
85
Inch
was
an enthusiastic advocate of plate-loading barbells but, as previ-
ously noted, he did not invent them. Born in 1881, Inch was active
in the British physical culture community by 1910. He ran a gym,
sold equipment and wrote at least twenty short books.
86
However,
he rarely included copyright dates in his texts, making it difficult to
trace his career. Nonetheless, Inch was an early, and important con-
tributor to the development of the barbell. In
Scientific Weightlift-
ing,
one of his earliest texts, Inch advertised a variety of barbells which
he sold through the mail. Like Calvert, he offered a combination
globe/plate-loading barbell, although Inch’s bar had the plates on the
outside of the globes. He also offered a variety of plate loading
sets, claiming, “I am the only person supplying these bells.”
87
Inch
Mueller, at least three German companies quickly stole Markl’s idea
and began manufacturing disc-loading barbells. Heinrich Meyer’s
equipment company in Hagen, Westfalen, sold a set in which all
the plates were of the same height. Hermann Fechner of Dresden-
Trachau and Hermann Stein of Magdeburg also manufactured plate-
loading barbell sets in the 1890s.
92
Another early reference to plate-
loading barbells can be found in
The Official Gazette of the U.S.
Patent Office
for 1889. Patent number 405,128 described an “Exer-
cising Bar,” invented by Samuel B. Stockburger of Canton, Ohio.
Stockburger’s barbell consisted of a bar made of “spring material
of such length to be grasped by two hands, the removable weights.
. . and means for attaching said weights.” Stockburger appears to be
the first person to suggest using a flexible bar for weightlifting. The
illustration accompanying his patent application shows five plates on
each end of the bar, All are of the same height but their thickness var-
strongly favored plate-loading barbells and claimed that ‘The advan-
ied considerably.
93
tages of having a set of plates
with a bar to fit, and collars, etc.,
are not generally understood. . .
One bell may cover a great num-
ber of lifts and thus a great sav-
ing is effected in both space and
money.
88 Calvert, who also
sold plate-loading bells by 1909,
did not agree. “The principal
defect of bells that load only with
plates,” Calvert wrote, “is that
they cannot be increased in
weight except in jumps of 5 lbs
or more. In order to practice
weightlifting safely and suc-
cessfully you
must
have a bell
that can be increased one ounce
at a time if necessary—and this
alone makes it unwise to use a
bell which loads only with iron
plates.”89
Despite his personal
preference for spherical weights,
Calvert was astute enough to
sense the change in training
methods which plate loading bar-
bells represented. By 1910 his
catalogue also included four dif-
ferent plate-loading sets which
were modern in appearance and
lacked the spherical shells at each
end.
90
In Germany, exposed-
plate barbells and dumbells were
first introduced by Josef Markl,
a former member of the Rasso
Trio, who “constructed so-called
ring-bars . . . with huge thick
discs” in 1889.
91
According to
T
HIS
1902 AD
VERTISEMENT FOR THE
M
ILO
A
D
JUS
T
ABLE
B
AR
-B
ELL
APPEARED IN
P
HYSICAL
C
ULTURE
MAGAZINE
. D
ALE
F
RIESZ DONATED
A M
ILO
DUMBELL, MADE ON THIS MODEL, TO OUR COLLECTION.
13
Conclusion
Throughout the twentieth cen-
tury, a host of exercise en-
trepreneurs have contributed to the
evolution of the plate-loading bar-
bell. Theodore Siebert of Germany
began marketing his
Siebert’s Uni-
versal-Scheibenstange
(Universal
disc loading bar) in 1901. In 1905,
Franz Veltum of Fechenheim, Ger-
many, introduced the Veltum-Bar-
bell, which, according to Mueller,
was the “first revolving-type bar-
bell.”94
In 1910, Veltum’s revolv-
ing barbell began to be manufac-
tured by the Nürnberg-based equip-
ment company of Kaspar Berg.
The Veltum-Barbell was soon
known as the Berg-Barbell or
Berg-
Hantel
and its sales helped the Berg
company become the most suc-
cessful barbell manufacturer in Ger-
many in the early twentieth centu-
ry. In 1928, Kaspar Berg intro-
duced a new model, the first “mod-
ern” Olympic barbell” These bars,
used for the first time at the
Olympic Games in Amsterdam in
1928, were then copied by the York
Barbell Company, the Jackson Bar-
bell Company, and nearly all other
twentieth-century manufacturers.
Th
E
York “Olympic Bar” was actu-
ally copied from a set Henry “Mile”
Steinborn was given in the late
1920s by Dr. William Edward
Campbell. Jr., an Atlanta ophthal-
mologist.
95
In the early 1930s Bob
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ALVERT
,
FOUNDER OF THE MILO
B
ARBELL
C
OMPANY
,
ARGUED
THAT SHOT-LOADING BARBELLS, AS SEEN HERE FROM A COMPANY CATA-
LOGUE, WERE SUPERIOR TO PLATE-LOADING BELLS BECAUSE SHOT-WAD-
ING ALLOWED THE WEIGHT TO BE INCREASED BY A FEW OUNCES AT A TIME.
Hoffman asked Steinborn to loan the set to York so that it could be
copied.
In the twentieth century, plate-loading barbells quickly
passed the kettlebell and Indian club in popularity and joined the
dumbell as the favored tool of serious trainers. Although the late-
twentieth century has seen the invention of a number of high-tech,
expensive machines which claim to be superior to all other forms
of training, the simple dumbell and barbell still reign supreme. Almost
all sport scientists consider them superior to machines for building
athletic power. Whether the dumbell and barbell ever become obso-
lete–as the Indian club and kettlebell have–remains to be seen; how-
ever, the almost infinite adaptability and effectiveness of these sim-
ple tools suggests that they will be at the heart of the iron game for
some years to come.
Notes
The
author would like to thank David Chapman for his
assistance in translating Edmund Desbonnet’s,
The
Kings of
Strength;
Henry Steinborn for material on the Berg Barbell
Company; Joe Roark for sending the piece by Edgar Mueller;
and George H. Miller, Jr. for sending information on Calvert’s
patents.
1
Terry Todd, “The History of Resistance Exercise and Its Role in United
States Education” (PhD. diss., University of Texas, 1966), 26.
2
The wrestler Milo of Crotona is often referred to as the Father of Progres-
sive Resistance Exercise. According to legend, Milo built his strength by
shouldering and walking with a calf every day until it was fully grown. Milo
lived in the fifth century B.C. and won the championship six times at Olympia
and seven times at Pythia. David P. Willoughby,
The Super Athletes (New
York: A.S. Barnes, 1970), 29-30.
3
Norman E. Gardiner,
Athletics of the Ancient World
(Oxford: Clarendon
Press, 1955), 6.
4
Ibid, 153.
5
Ibid, 169-170.
6
John W. F. Blundell, M.D.,
The Muscles and Their Story, From the Ear-
liest Times; Including the Whole Text Of Mercurialis, and the Opinions
of Other Writers Ancient and Modern, on Mental and Bodily Develop
ment
(London: Chapman & Hall, 1864), 165-166.
7
Ibid, 171.
8
See Allen Guttmann,
Women’s Sports: A History
(New York: Columbia
University, 1991): 38, for an analysis of the meaning of this mosaic.
9
Sir Thomas Elyot,
The Boke Named the Governor,
S. E. Lehmberg, ed.
(London: J. M. Dent & Sons,
1962), 59-60, quoted in Todd, “History of
Resistance Exercise,” 34.
10
Ellen Gerber,
Innovators and Institutions in Physical Education
(Philade-
phia: Lea and Febiger, 1971). 109-110.
1l
David P. Webster,
The Iron Game
(Irvine, Scotland: by the author, 1976),
7.
Edgar Mueller, German strongman and author of
Goerner the Mighty,
claimed that Camerarius was the first to describe true dumbell exercises. See:
Edgar Mueller, “The History of the Two Hands Jerk; Clean; and Snatch-Lift-
ing and Apparatus Used For It In Germany, Austria and France,” Unpub-
lished manuscript, Todd-McLean Collection, The University of Texas at
Austin.
l2Quoted in: Joseph Strutt, The Sports and Pastimes of the People of
England, Including the Rural and Domestic Recreations, May Games,
Mummeries, Shows, Processions, Pageants, and Pompous Spectacles,
From the Earliest Period to the Present Time
(London: 1845), 77.
13
The Living Thoughts of Montaigne,
pres. Andre Gide, ed. Alfred O.
Mendel, and trans. John Florio (New York: Green & Co., 1939), 58.
14
1nformation on the life and legacy of Mercurialis is available in L. H.
Joseph, “Medical Gymnastics in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries,”
Ciba
10(March-April 1949):1041-1045 and in Jack Berryman, “The Tra-
dition of the Six Things Non-Natural: Exercise and Medicine from Hip-
pocrates Through Ante-Bellum America,”
Exercise and Sport Sciences
Reviews
17(1989): 526.
526; Gerber,
Innovators,
22-26.
15Hieronymus Mercurialis, De Arte Gymnastica (Amsterdam: 1672).
Reprint edition, The Scholars Press, Ilkey England.
16
Joseph, “Medical Gymnastics,” 1041-42.
17Mercurialis classified exercise into two main types—preventive and
therapeutic—and believed that the quantity and duration of exercise should
be individualized according to a person’s constitution and level of fitness.
18
Joseph, “Medical Gymnastics,” 1045. See also: Blundell,
The Muscles,
iv. Blundell spent seven years translating Mercurialis’ work into English
only to decide that a simple translation rendered a product “too diffuse and
verbose to suit the modern reader.” So, he organized Mercurialis’ ideas into
subject chapters, divested them “of obsolete argument without impairing
their sense,” and tried to “make them subservient to the knowledge of the
14
present day.” Blundell noted in his preface that “for two centuries at least,”
De Arte Gymnastica
was the major source of information about exercise in
the classical period and for the proper uses of exercise in therapy and pre-
vention.
19
Gerber,
Innovators,
22-23.
20
Mercurialis,
De Arte Gymnastica
162-164.
21
Joseph Addison,
The Spectator
2(115) 12 July 1711 (London: Long-
man, Green & Co. 1898). 163.
22
Addison,
Spectator,
paragraph 7 & 8. Quoted in
The Oxford English
Dictionary
vol. 4, 2nd ed. (London: Clarendon Press, 1989), 1115.
23
A Course of Calisthenics for Young Ladies in Schools and Families
With Some Remarks on Physical Education
(Hartford H.&F. J. Hunting-
ton, 1831). 45-54.
24
0xford English Dictionary,
115.
25
Webster,
Iron Game,
7.
Webster found the description of this early dumb-
ell machine in: “Chancellor Ferguson’s paper to the Archaeological Insti-
tute in 1895.”
26Upon Franklin’s death, his physician testified to the importance
of hygienic living to Franklin’s longevity. William Temple Franklin
ed.
Memoirs of the Life and Writings of Benjamin Franklin, L.L.D. F.B.S.
&c.
...Written by Himself a Late Period and Continued to the Time of
His Death, By his Grandson; William Temple Franklin
vol. 1 (Lon-
don: printed for Henry Colburn, 1818), 408.
27
Benjamin Franklin to his son, 19 August 1772, quoted in Albert Henry
Smyth, ed,
The Writings of Benjamin Franklin
vol. 5 (New York: 1905-
07), 411-412; and in Todd, “History of Resistance Exercise,” 38-39.
28
Franklin to Le Veillard, 22 April 1786. Quoted in Carl Van Doren,
Ben-
jamin Franklin
(New York The Viking Press, 1938), 743; “and in Todd,
“History of Resistance Exercise,” 39.
29Ibid.
30
Strutt,
Sports and Pastimes of the People of England,
77.
31
J. C. F. GutsMuths,
Gymnastics for Youth: Or a Practical Guide to
Delightful and Amusing Exercises for the Use of Schools
(Philadelphia:
William Duane, 1802) 316.
32Ibid
33Ibid, 317.
34
Charles Beck
A Treatise on Gymnastiks, Taken Chiefly from the Ger-
man of F. L. Jahn
(Northhampton, Massachusetts: Simeon Butler, 1828),
123.
35Ibid, 121.
36Ibid.
37
The ancient Greeks’ use of wax and lead particles should perhaps, also
be considered a form of variable resistance training.
38
Quoted in: Sim D. Kehoe,
The Indian Club Exercise
(New York: Amer-
ican News Company, 1866). 7.
39
See David P. Webster,
Bodybuilding: An Illustrated History
(New
York: ArcoPublishing, 1982), 123-124, for other information on club train-
ing.
40
Joseph S. Alter,
The Wrestler’s Body: Identity and Ideology in North
India
(Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992), 64.
41Ibid, 64-65.
42Ibid, 109-110.
43Ibid.
44
Kehoe,
Indian Club Exercise,
7.
45
Craven [Donald Walker],
British Manly Exercises; In Which Rowing
and Sailing are Now First Discussed
(London: 1834). An eleventh ed-
tion was entitled:
Walker’s Manly Exercises: Containing Rowing, Sailing,
Riding, Driving, Racing, Hunting, Shooting and Other Manly Sports
(Ion-
don: George Bell & Sons, 1888).
46
Donald Walker,
Exercises for Ladies Calculated to Preserve & Improve
Beauty and to Prevent and Correct Personal Defects
(London: Thomas
Hurst, 1835) xx.
47
Professor Harrison,
Indian Clubs, Dumb-bells and Sword Exercises
2nd
ed. (London: Dean and Son, n.d.), 9. The term “Mugdaugh” is used in
Dewitt’s Athletic Exercises for Health and Strength
(New York: Dewitt,
circa 1870), 23.
48
Quoted in Russell Trall’s
The Illustrated Family Gymnasium
(New
York: Fowler & Wells, 1857), 58.
49
Harrison,
Indian Clubs,
preface.
50
Kehoe.
Indian Club Exercise,
7-9.
51
Ibid., 24, 27-28.
52
Ibid., 30.
53
Ibid., 22-25.
54
Ed lames,
How to Acquire Health Strength and Muscle
12th ed. (New
York: by the author, 1878), frontpiece.
55
Pemmican was a form of concentrated food, developed by Native Amer-
icans. It was made by mixing together rendered animal fat cured, powdered
meat; and, occasionally, berries. Because of its high nutritive values, a small
amount of pemmican went a long way, and allowed its user to go a long way
too.
56
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, “Gymnastics,”
The Atlantic Monthly
7(March 1861): 289.
57
Ibid., 288-289. See also the chapter entitled “Remarkable Feats of Mus-
cular Strength,” in James,
Health, Strength and Muscle,
60-63.
58
Edmund Desbonnet,
Les Rois de la Force
(Paris: Librairie Berger-Lev-
rault, 1911),60.
59
According to Edgar Mueller, the German system of exercises called
Tur-
nen
included exercises using globe-ended dumbells up to five kilos in weight
and iron bars up to three kilos in weight. Globe-ended barbells were not
added to the system in Germany until the 1890s, when “One hand and Two
hands Repetition-Pressing (from the hang” to overhead) with medium heavy
massive short globe barbells weighing 25 kilos for one-handed Pressing and
37.5 kilos for two handed pressing. Short globe or spherical Barbells (not
dumbbells) mostly used by gymnastics (Turnen) were named in Germany
Turner-Kugelstange
or
Turner-Kugelhantel
or
Turner-Kugelstab.”
From:
Mueller, “‘History of the Two Hands Jerk,” 7.
60
Desbonnet,
Les Rois de la Force,
59.
61
Nicolas Andry,
Orthopaedia: Or the Art of Correcting and Preventing
Deformities in Children
(London: A. Miller, 1743), 55-74.
62
Quoted in Persis McCurdy, ‘The History of Physical Training at Mount
Holyoke College,”
American Physical Education Review
14( 1909): 144.
63
Mueller, “‘History of the Two Hands Jerk,” 7.
64Ibid.
65
No information on “Trelar” could be found. Harrison,
Indian Clubs,
Dumb Bells and Sword Exercises,
34.
66
Dewitt’s Athletic Exercises,
17.
67
Madame Brennar,
Gymnastics for Ladies, A Treatise on the Science and
Art of Calisthenics and Gymnastic Exercises
(London: by Madame Bren-
nar at her Gymnasium, 1870), 33.
68
See, for instance, R. H. McCartney,
Gill’s Bar-bell and Wand Exercis-
15
T
HE
1936 C
ATALOG OF THE
B
ERG
B
ARBELL
C
OMPANY
CONTAINED SEVERAL REVOLVING-SLEEVE BARBELLS, AND THREE STYLES OF DUMBELLS. THE
B
ERG
H
ANTEL
WAS COPIED BY THE
Y
ORK
B
ARBELL
C
OMPANY.
C
ATALOG COURTESY
H
ENRY
S
TEINBORN
es for Use in Schools with Musical Accompaniments
(London, George
Gill and Sons, n.d); and R. Tait McKenzie,
Barnjum Bar Bell Drill (New
York: American Sports Publishing Company, 1906).
69
Desbonnet,
Les Rois de la Force,
32; and Mueller, History of the Two
Hands Jerk,” 8.
70
The first barbell photograph appears on page 148 with the story of Andre
Prandeli. It was taken in 1888. The second and third are on page 167 and
were also taken in the 1880s. Desbonnet,
Les Rois de la Force.
71
Mueller, “History of the Two Hands Snatch” 9.
72
”I have known Schöbig (1867-1947) as a precise and truth loving fellow,”
wrote Mueller. “Schöbig said to me many names of these Old-Timers but
I’ve forgotten their names, I remember only one name: Faber, who was owner
and founder of a factory of gymnastic-equipments at Leipzig.”
Ibid
73Ibid.
74Ibid.
tising brochure] (Philadelphia, Milo Company, 1909).
85
Webster,
Iron Game,
57-58.
86
See Todd, “History of Resistance Exercise,” 321-333, for an annotated
bibliography of these books.
87
Thomas Inch,
Scientific Weightlifting
(London: by the author, n.d), 26.
88Ibid.
89
[Alan Calvert]
The Milo System of Heavy Weightlifting
(Philadelphia:
Milo Barbell Company, n.d), 13.
90
[Alan Calvert]
1910 Catalogue of Adjustable Dumb-Bells, Bar-Bells,
Kettle-Bells, etc.
(Philadelphia: Milo Barbell Company, n.d.), 13.
91Such a bar was used by Hans Beck of Munich in 1893, according to
Mueller’s History of the Two Hands Jerk” 10.
92
Ibid., 9-10.
93
Patent Number 405,128: “Exercising Bar,”
The Official Gazette of the
U.S. Patent Office
47(June 1889).
94
Inch also advertised a bar with an “oil sleeve” which mimicked the effect
of these revolving bars.
95
Telephone interview with Mrs. India Campbell, Atlanta Georgia, April
1995. William Campbell [1888-19751 graduated with his MD. degree from
Columbia University in 1919 and shortly thereafter settled in Atlanta, Geor-
gia. In the early Twenties, Williams met and became friends with Milo Stein-
born who was at that time working as a professional wrestler. Campbell was
a life-long weight trainer and physical culturist and he imported what was
probably the first Berg-Hantel set in the United States for his personal use.
On a visit to Dr. Campbell’s home, Steinborn saw the set, admired it, and
then received it as a gift from the doctor. According to his wife, India, Dr.
Campbell introduced many young men in the Atlanta area to the benefits
of weight training and often paid out of his own pocket for gym member-
ships and weight training equipment for his protégés. One of his disciples
was Karo Whitfield who for many years ran a gym in Atlanta, where he influ-
enced such men as Bill Curry, Paul Anderson and Harry Johnson. For infor-
mation on Whitfield and Curry see: Al Thomas, “Bill Curry and the Gospel
of Physical Fitness,”
Iron Game History
2(May 1993): 16-19.
96
Taped interview with Milo Steinborn, 22 December 1983; and telephone
interview with Henry Steinborn, Orlando, Florida, April 1995.
75
Webster,
Iron Game,
57.
76
It is not known who first used shot-loading or plate-loading weights in
Germany. Mueller’s article, which has no footnotes, contains only the gen-
eral statements regarding the origin of these implements noted in the article.
“James,
Health, Strength and Muscle,
56. The 1873 edition of Russell
Trall’s
Illustrated Family Gymnasium
described a similar, wooden dumb-
ell, whose ends consisted of two interlocking hemispheres. See page 189.
78
“The Patent Graduating Dumb-Bell” [Advertising broadside] George
Barker Windship Collection, Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston, Mas-
sachusetts.
79
Peck and Snyder,
Pric
e List of Out & Indoor Sport and Pastimes
(New
York: 1886).
80
The 1902 Edition of the Sears and Roebuck Catalogue
Reprinted (Ave-
nal, NJ: Gramercy Press, 1993). 338.
81
David P. Willoughby, “History of American Weightlifting : Alan Calvert
and the Milo Bar-bell Company,”
Your Physique
11(August 1949): 8.
82
Milo Barbell Company advertisement
Physical Culture
7(April 1902):
3.
83
Calvert applied for a patent for the Milo Triplex on 29 December 1908.
84
Alan Calvert]
The Milo System of Progressive Weightlifting
[adver-
16
... that some women engaged in strength training as early as 4th century A.D. Rome (Todd, 1995). Of course, the use of strength training by modern American girls and women was insignificant until the exponential growth of participation in sporting activities by females occurred following the 1972 adoption of Title 9 of the U.S. Education Amendments Law, which required equal access and funding, regardless of gender, for all education programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance. ...
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... The subculture of bodybuilding dates back to the ancient Greeks (Todd, 1995). The concept of the 'Greek ideal as hyperreal' is said to have been instrumental in the onset of modern bodybuilding; the development of the muscular physique as a celebration of the human body (Stockings, 2014). ...
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Chapter
New laboratory equipment gave an increasingly accurate picture of human physiology, with the findings eagerly discussed in scientific societies and journals. Positivism encouraged evidence-based research. Many doctors still prescribed bed rest, but some began to advise exercise not only for health but also for intellectual development. Florence Nightingale and Almoth Wright spurred disease prevention in military hospitals. Microbiology offered effective measures against epidemics, and major efforts began to improve urban hygiene, housing and working conditions Theologians and philosophers argued the relative contributions of personal and societal efforts to wellness. Rival approaches to physical conditioning included German and Swedish gymnastics, and English “public” school sports programmes. A long list of sporting organizations testified to a wide range of new recreational opportunities, now open to women as well as men. New transportation networks and the mechanization of industrial and domestic work reduced daily energy expenditures. Spectator sports flourished, thanks to newspaper publicity and access by mass transit. Reading, drama, concerts, opera, and burlesque for the working class offered other new possibilities for sedentary leisure. Physical condition was viewed in the context of survival rather than quality of life, with little objective data on how population fitness was affected by these social changes.
Thesis
Indian clubs are bottle-shaped weighted clubs swung in the hand for gymnastic exercise. Despite their obscure status in modern culture, the clubs were one of the most recognizable items of fitness equipment in nineteenth and early-twentieth century India and England. Originating in India, the clubs’ nineteenth and early twentieth-century history is one of remarkable complexity. Adopted by civil and military colonisers in India in the early nineteenth-century, club swinging became a means of maintaining England’s project in India, a means of subjugating Indian men as well as means of challenging negative colonial stereotypes. Likewise in England, Indian clubs were used to challenge, create and reinvigorate ideas about embodied gender identities. Indian clubs can thus be viewed as a historical vessel containing converging colonial, gender and political histories. Adopted by soldiers, nationalists, exercisers and even suffragists, the clubs’ continuity and varied use demonstrate the fluidity of gender identities in India and England during this period. Utilising the conceptual framework of French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu, the current study seeks to answer how English colonisers and the wider English public rationalised adopting an Indian form of exercise, especially that of a Hindu race often considered as effeminate. Similarly the work is interested in understanding how the adoption of Indian club swinging in Indian and English exercise regimens reinforced or challenged prevailing gender stereotypes. Finally, the work examines the extent to which Indian clubs became a politicised form of exercise with regards to the Hindu physical culture and English suffragist movements. In answering these questions, the thesis argues that Indian club swinging was a method of masculine and feminine identity formation for numerous exercisers in both India and England. Demonstrating how club swinging was used to negotiate masculine and feminine identities during this period, the dissertation thus presents an original contribution to the literature on Indian clubs as well as impacting upon histories of the Hindu physical culture movement, nineteenth-century English exercise and the English suffragist movement.
Schöbig said to me many names of these Old-Timers but I've forgotten their names, I remember only one name: Faber, who was owner and founder of a factory of gymnastic-equipments at Leipzig
  • Mueller
wrote Mueller. " Schöbig said to me many names of these Old-Timers but I've forgotten their names, I remember only one name: Faber, who was owner and founder of a factory of gymnastic-equipments at Leipzig. " Ibid 73 Ibid. 74 Ibid. tising brochure] (Philadelphia, Milo Company, 1909).
See also the chapter Remarkable Feats of Muscular Strength
  • Ibid
57 Ibid., 288-289. See also the chapter entitled " Remarkable Feats of Muscular Strength, " in James, Health, Strength and Muscle, 60-63.
History of American Weightlifting : Alan Calvert and the Milo Bar-bell Company
  • P David
  • Willoughby
David P. Willoughby, " History of American Weightlifting : Alan Calvert and the Milo Bar-bell Company, " Your Physique 11(August 1949): 8. 82 Milo Barbell Company advertisement Physical Culture 7(April 1902):
8. 70 The first barbell photograph appears on page 148 with the story of Andre Prandeli. It was taken in 1888. The second and third are on page 167 and were also taken in the 1880s
  • Les Desbonnet
  • Rois De La Force
69 Desbonnet, Les Rois de la Force, 32; and Mueller, History of the Two Hands Jerk, " 8. 70 The first barbell photograph appears on page 148 with the story of Andre Prandeli. It was taken in 1888. The second and third are on page 167 and were also taken in the 1880s. Desbonnet, Les Rois de la Force. 71 Mueller, " History of the Two Hands Snatch " 9.
History of Resistance Exercise 321-333, for an annotated bibliography of these books: by the author, n.d), 26. 88 Ibid. 89 [Alan Calvert] The Milo System of Heavy Weightlifting (Philadelphia: Milo Barbell Company, n.d), 13 Catalogue of Adjustable Dumb-Bells Exercising Bar
  • Iron Webster
  • Game
85 Webster, Iron Game, 57-58. 86 See Todd, " History of Resistance Exercise, " 321-333, for an annotated bibliography of these books. 87 Thomas Inch, Scientific Weightlifting (London: by the author, n.d), 26. 88 Ibid. 89 [Alan Calvert] The Milo System of Heavy Weightlifting (Philadelphia: Milo Barbell Company, n.d), 13. 90 [Alan Calvert] 1910 Catalogue of Adjustable Dumb-Bells, Bar-Bells, Kettle-Bells, etc. (Philadelphia: Milo Barbell Company, n.d.), 13. 91 Such a bar was used by Hans Beck of Munich in 1893, according to Mueller's History of the Two Hands Jerk " 10. 92 Ibid., 9-10. 93 Patent Number 405,128: " Exercising Bar, " The Official Gazette of the U.S. Patent Office 47(June 1889).