Media Exercises

How Did People Exercise in the Past Centuries?

If today, with all the technology that we have at our disposal, the academies are full of treadmills, exercise bikes and modern weightlifting, we can record our performance in training on these equipments and running on applications that we download in a few minutes on the smartphone and wear comfortable and appropriate clothes for each exercise session, centuries ago the story was well different.

The first place that can be called a gym was founded in the late 19th century in Stockholm, Sweden at the institute of Swedish doctor Gustav Zander. Created for the purpose of treating children and male workers, Dr. Zander's establishment was supported by the state and therefore also accessible to people with limited financial resources.


All this in order to correct physical problems caused by accidents occurring in childbirth or in the work of adult men. The doctor believed that the key to maintaining health was to work the muscles of the body in a controlled and systematic way, thus gaining strength.

Dr. Zander created 70 devices and the structure of his institute counted on equipment like the so-called "mechanical horse that was used for the cardiovascular training, besides a gadget similar to the abdominal machines we know today, and a machine that worked with the patients' posture, promising to straighten the spine (figure follow).

7th form

He even defined his method as a "prevention against the evils generated by a sedentary life and isolation in the office."

Looking at the photos that illustrate our article, everything may seem somewhat distant in our reality, but this does not eliminate the importance that the Swedish physician's institute had for the world. fitness. This is because when they were taken from Europe to the United States at the beginning of the 20th century, Gustav's equipment Zander gave birth and served as a prototype for the exercise equipment that is part of our lives currently.

Once in the United States, he had as the target audience of his clientele the American men, who were beginning to enrich themselves at that time, and their wives. Based on the idea that his method offered improved well-being and the ability to work and that the time spent on the appliances was worth it, he announced his products.

  • 5 Tips for Buying a Residential Home Appliance
  • 7 Points to Check the Right Time to Find the Right Academy for You
  • See What 20 Minutes of Bodybuilding Does to the Brain
  • How to Choose Aerobic Exercise Equipment for a Home Gym

As a result, Zander's inventions have been taking over spas, private institutions and gyms. As these establishments did not have the support of the government, as happened with the doctor's institute in Sweden, the access was restricted only to the people who had more money.

7th form

And as you can see in the pictures, the folks of old did not lose their pose even when it was time to work out, since they exercised in suits and ties or in their bulky clothes.

Still in the nineteenth century, a kind of magnetic corset was invented, equipped with what appear to be needles, similar what we found in acupuncture treatments, which supposedly helped cure paralysis, indigestion and rheumatism.


A little later, back in the 1920s, what popped up on the fitness market was a frightening contraption that promised to provide the user with a "young column". The oneMolby Revolving Hammock(something like Molby Turnaround) claimed to be able to lengthen a person's muscles at the same time in which he straightened his spine, soothed his anxiety, made his chest larger, and shaped the hourglass into his body. All this without stressing the sympathetic nervous system, as the advertisement below shows.


A decade later, other horse-like equipment appeared, claiming to be able to speed up circulation, stimulate the liver, increase appetite and cure indigestion and gout.


Already in the 60's, one of the devices available to consumers in the fitness market, in particular for women, it was a massager that promised to distribute the accumulated fat and cellulite body.


More photos of well-established exercise equipment:









What did you think of the exercise equipment that people used to use in past centuries? Would you dare to test any of them or would you rather have the modern gadgets we have available today? Comment below!

(3votes, average:, 0of 5)
Loading ...