The North American Gymnastic Union was the oldest American institution for the education of teachers of physical training. It was originally established in 1866 and had many different homes. It began in New York City, then transferred to Chicago but eventually re-located after the great fire. This was the quite impressive location in Milwaukee during the late 1800’s. Shown here is a rare look at the inside and outside of this fantastic facility. Milwaukee was a hotbed of physical culture activity during that time largely due to the efforts of the Milwaukee Turners, and George Brosius.
As mentioned numerous times on this blog, Sandow promoted a variety of products in his heyday. These items including his own line of Health and Strength Cocoa which came packaged in the above tins.
Many strongmen had their own medals or badges as prizes for finishing their training courses. Here’s a look at Sandow’s Physical Culture Badge. This picture is enlarged to show detail, the badge is actually about the size of a quarter.
Believe it or not, strength “machines” have a history that goes back even further than barbells and dumbbells. This “Semi-Circle Strength Developer” was manufactured by Spalding in the late 1890’s. This was actually a fairly common style of machine and several different companies had their own version.
Waldemar Baszanowski, the great Polish weightlifter, competed in four Olympic Games and took home Gold twice, at the 1964 Games in Tokyo, and the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. He also won five Wold Championships: 1961, 1964, 1965, 1968, and 1969 and set twenty five World Records over the course of his career. He also had five Silver medals, giving him twelve total medals in international competition, more than any other weightlifter in history (at least to date.)
Many cultures have a long tradition of Stone Lifting. Another great example of this is the Unspunnen Stone of Switzerland. The stone is so named for the Unspunnenfest, a cultural festival held near the ruins of the old Unspunnen Castle near Interlaken, Switzerland. This festival, which began officially in 1805, features a celebration of Swiss culture with competitions in yodeling, wrestling, and, of course, stone throwing. Unspunnenfest takes place roughly every 10 years or so, with the most recent event occurring in 2006. As for the the Unspunnen Stone itself, it weighs 184 lbs., and the object of the Steinstossen event is to hurl it as far as possible. Pictured above is Markus Maire, a 35-year old Swiss carpenter who won the 2006 event with an overhead throw of 3.89 meters (12.76 feet).
The great japanese lifter Yoshinobu Miyake is shown here at “the moment of truth” during the 1961 World championships where he won the Bronze Medal. It is not as evident in this picture but Miyake pioneered a unique technique known as “frog style” (or the Miyake pull), which involves a wide grip and where the legs are splayed to the side at the beginning of the lift. His focus on this technique payed off as he took home Olympic Gold in the 1964 Tokyo Games and the 1968 Games in Mexico City, and set 29 World Records over the course of his career.
The great martial artist Bruce Lee was a big proponent of physical training and with good reason. He understood… he “got it” … which is why he also made it a point to train his grip. Building stronger fingers, wrists, hands and forearms is obviously very important in combat settings. Here’s Master Bruce doing pushups on only his thumbs in between takes while filming Game of Death – an incredible feat. Can anyone today do this?
Balancing Feats are always impressive but I do not recommend trying this one (or anything close to it!) Here Samuel Jenkins accomplishes something dangerous, impressive and quite possibly stupid at the same time ~ balancing precariously on two chairs atop a New York apartment building, circa 1923.
A rare shot of Arthur Jones training on Nautilus Pullover during the Colorado Experiment. That’s Tom Wood, my uncle, spotting on the right. He is one of the few people in the world that could say “Arthur, quite screwing around and get another rep.” My uncle was also Casey Viator’s roommate during the whole Colorado Experiment – so yeah, that’s how I know things were legit.