Wall Pulleys

Posted on Monday, September 24th, 2018 by John Wood
Wall Pulleys were one of the first commercially available pieces of training equipment and were a common sight in gyms in the later 19th and early 20th century. Pugilists used to use them for building punching power as well as developing upper body endurance.

Here the great Light-heavyweight boxer from Philadelphia Tommy Loughran gets in a quick workout while his trainer Jack Brady looks on. These two shots are especially rare as they are two different shots taken at the same moment from two different cameras. They were taken in 1929.

All Contents, Including Images and Text, Copyright © 2005-2019 by John Wood and Thunderdome Media Inc., Not to be reproduced without permission, All Rights Reserved
Author: John Wood. All contents, including images and text, copyright © 2005-2019 by John Wood and Thunderdome Media Inc. Not to be reproduced without permission. All rights reserved. We will most likely grant permission but please contact us if you would like to repost. IMPORTANT: Equipment and books, courses etc. pictured in blog posts are generally not available for sale unless specifically noted.

Custer’s Dumbbell

Posted on Tuesday, May 29th, 2018 by John Wood
General George Custer first came to Kansas in 1866 as Lieutenant Colonel of the newly formed 7th U.S. Cavalry. He spent late spring of 1867 at Fort Hays, where the 7th camped until they had accumulated adequate supplies and ammunition for a summer campaign. Time in camp was quite boring and to pass the hours, as well as keep physically fit, Custer commissioned the fort’s blacksmith, Thomas Kennedy to make this dumbbell for him sometime in 1867. It is made of bronze and weighs around 25 pounds. Custer’s Dumbbell currently resides in the Kansas Museum of History.

German Weightlifting Club ~ 1905

Posted on Sunday, December 3rd, 2017 by John Wood
A German weightlifting club circa 1905 with a selection of classic equipment. Of note are the large and rather impressive kettlebells. If you are familiar with your kettlebell history you know that the Germans were particularly fond of kettlebell juggling which is the reason for the squared off handles.
All Contents, Including Images and Text, Copyright © 2005-2019 by John Wood and Thunderdome Media Inc., Not to be reproduced without permission, All Rights Reserved
Author: John Wood. All contents, including images and text, copyright © 2005-2019 by John Wood and Thunderdome Media Inc. Not to be reproduced without permission. All rights reserved. We will most likely grant permission but please contact us if you would like to repost. IMPORTANT: Equipment and books, courses etc. pictured in blog posts are generally not available for sale unless specifically noted.

The Spalding Special Friction Wrestling Machine

Posted on Thursday, January 16th, 2014 by John Wood

Here’s an interesting one from days-gone-by: The Spalding Special Friction Wrestling Machine, or, in other words, two long handles attached to a friction brake. For combat training purposes one would bend or pull this way and that, with resistance of course, focusing a great deal on the muscles of the waist and trunk (what they evidently call the “core” these days.) This might even fall under the “functional” training designation today. Regardless, I’d say this design has many interesting possibilities. By the way, the $12 price tag would equal over $300 in today’s money when adjusted for inflation.

Professor Adrian Schmidt’s Automatic Exerciser ~ Life’s Backbone

Posted on Sunday, February 5th, 2012 by John Wood
Professor Adrian Schmidt’s “Automatic Exerciser” (also called a “Schmidt Machine”) was one of the very first commercially made pieces of strength equipment. It was ingenious in its simplicity since it allows for a number of exercises — especially those which required incredibly heavy weights — to be performed in a minimum of space. Movements such as hip lifts or deadlift lockouts (i.e. ‘The Health Lift) etc which often required hundreds of pounds of weight could now be performed with only a few dozen thanks to the leverage principle.

Schmidt felt, and rightly so, that maintaining a strong healthy life was a matter of maintaining a strong and healthy back. This concept, as well as instructions for the exerciser, were all explained in his booklet “Life’s Backbone.” Back in 1917, when this ad appeared, you could send away for this booklet for 4 cents!

German Weightlifting Club ~ 1919

Posted on Saturday, August 27th, 2011 by John Wood

A rare shot of a German weightlifting club and their classic equipment, taken around 1919. Also notice the particularly large and wide handles on their kettlebells. This style of handle served a specific purpose as the German strength athletes were particularly fond of juggling and throwing and catching their kettlebells.

Block Weights!

Posted on Monday, August 8th, 2011 by John Wood
Strongman Block Weight
Block Weights
The oldtime strongmen lifted just about any weight they could get their hands on. Shown here is a block weight, an obvious precursor to the kettlebell. Block weights (also sometimes referred to as scale weights) were originally used for measurement purposes though eventually many strongmen began to lift them for strength and show.

I suspect that many of the oldtime strongmen noticed these weights sitting backstage at the theaters where they performed (where they were used as ballast to counterweight theatre props etc) and decided to start using them to lift. Block weights are awkward to lift, making movements such as cleans and presses a much bigger challenge, even at comparatively “light” weights. Block weights also make excellent “handles” for pushups and handstands.

All Contents, Including Images and Text, Copyright © 2005-2019 by John Wood and Thunderdome Media Inc., Not to be reproduced without permission, All Rights Reserved
Author: John Wood. All contents, including images and text, copyright © 2005-2019 by John Wood and Thunderdome Media Inc. Not to be reproduced without permission. All rights reserved. We will most likely grant permission but please contact us if you would like to repost. IMPORTANT: Equipment and books, courses etc. pictured in blog posts are generally not available for sale unless specifically noted.