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This is THE PLACE for incredible feats, classic and unique equipment, advertisements, magazine covers, Olympic Champions, gymnastics, myths and legends, oldtime physical culture and everything else you can think of having to do with the history of physical training! -- There aint nothin' like it anywhere else! You'll want to check back several times per day, we update often.

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Waterman Gymnasium

In keeping with the saying Mens sana in corpore sano (A healthy mind in a healthy body) the University of Michigan built some of the finest gymnasia the world had ever seen in the late nineteenth century. The Waterman Gymnasium (pictured right and named for Joshua W. Waterman, a notable Detroit attorney who donated most of the funds) was completed in 1894.  The Barbour Gymnasium for women (on left, named for Regent Levi L. Barbour), followed in 1896. The physical director of these facilities was George A. May and the above picture was how both grand buildings looked from the diag, circa 1927.

Strength & Bulk Training for Weight Lifters & Body Builders by Reg Park

A look at an original circa 1960 copy of Strength & Bulk Training for Weight Lifters & Body Builders by Reg Park. You'd have better luck winning the lottery AND getting struck by lightning on the same day than getting your hands on an original copy like this one. Thanks to Bill Hinbern, you CAN get a modern reprint copy though and Reg's training advice is worth every penny.

Spike Howard

Spike Howard

Edward "Spike" Howard, from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, (unsurprisingly) earned his nickname thanks to his ability to bend and break spikes. A former Vaudeville strongman for many years, Howard is shown above breaking a chain with chest expansion. Performing feats of strength was actually not his only specialty: Howard also donated blood well over 1000 times which is thought to be some kind of record.

Sim D. Kehoe

Sim D. Kehoe

Simon "Sim" D. Kehoe was a manufacturer of gymnastic equipment who was introduced to club swinging during his travels abroad. He observed clubs of various sized being swung by British soldiers who, in turn, had learned club swinging from their counterparts in India. ...police, soldiers, wrestlers and "anyone else whose caste renders them liable to emergencies where great strength of muscle is desirable."

Once Kehoe tried the clubs for himself he instantly understood their value. Upon his return to the U.S. in 1862, he set up shop to manufacture Indian clubs and introduce club swinging to the American public on a wider scale. His efforts certainly worked, swinging Indian clubs of various sizes became wildly popular in many circles. (no pun intended) More on Sim Kehoe and his clubs at a later date...

Henry "Milo" Steinborn

Henry "Milo" Steinborn

Henry "Milo" Steinborn was a German strongman and wrestler who came the the U.S. in 1921 and immediately caused a big splash in the world of physical training. At a bodyweight of 210 pounds, he could snatch 220 pounds with one hand, military press 265 pounds and clean and jerk 347-1/2.

Milo was most well-known for introducing hard and heavy squatting to this side of the world. Milo could tip a barbell loaded to 550 pounds up and onto his back unassisted and then perform five deep reps with it -- a feat yet to be duplicated.

"Little Samson"

Little Samson

Pete Reynolds performed for many years on the Vaudeville and night club circuit as Little Samson - The World's Strongest Small Man.  Standing only five feet tall and weighing 107 pounds, he certainly fit the bill, among other feats, he ripped phone books in half... then quarters... then eigths! You won't find many heavy weights who could accomplish such a feat. Samson attributed his great strength to his healthy diet, and after he retired from the road, opened a health food store in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Syd Devis

Syd Devis

A look at the great Syd Devis, of the famous Camberwell Weight-Lifting Club, student of W.A. Pullum and 10-stone Amateur Champion of Great Britain, 1916-17. It is also worth noting that Syd's forearms appear as big (if not bigger than) as his upper arms...

Hooverball

"Once the day's work begins, there is little chance
to walk, to ride or to take part in a game."

That's the problem that Herbert Hoover faced when he took the presidency back in 1928. Sure, running the country is hard work, but you still have to keep in shape.

Fortunately, this problem was solved ingeniously by White House physician Admiral Joel T. Boone. Boone created a game for the President and his staff which required very little equipment, and very little skill but which provided the perfect amount of daily physical activity.

The game was simple - it was a combination of volley ball and tennis, yet played with a medicine ball. Team members simply hurled the medicine ball back and forth over an eight foot high net. Points were scored when a ball hit the ground on the opposing teams side.

As Hoover wrote in his Memoirs:

"It required less skill than tennis, was faster and more vigorous, and therefore gave more exercise in a short time,"

And Will Irvin, a friend of the president, remarked:

"It is more strenuous than either boxing, wrestling or football. It has the virtue of getting at nearly every muscle in the body."

Early each morning from four to 18 VIPs would show up for the games on the south lawn of the White House and at 7:00 sharp they choose partners and begin. They played until 7:30 when a factory down by the Potomac blew a loud whistle.

They played every morning of the week and paid little attention to the weather, whether it was cold, windy, rainy or snowing, they played almost always without fail, with the exception of an unusually drenching downpour where they retreated to the White House basement for their games.

Only once during his presidency did Hoover ever miss a game.



Reg Park Kettlebell Handles

You can count Reg Park among the many strength athletes who trained with kettlebells, in fact, Reg sold his own set of plate-loaded kettlebell handles through his equipment company. The above advertisement is from 1956.

It should be noted though that Reg et al, performed bodybuilding movements with kettlebells, (usually shoulder and arm work) and did not train with them in the kettlebell methods that are widely promoted today.

The Hammer Strength Iso-Lateral Low Row

The Hammer Strength Iso-Lateral Low Row

A look at the Hammer Strength Iso-Lateral Low Row machine, demonstrated by Cincinnati Bengal offensive tackle (and future Pro Football Hall of Famer) Anthony Munoz, circa 1990. The Hammer Low Row is still a great machine, if you can find one.

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