George Brosius’ Gym

Posted on Wednesday, August 29th, 2018 by John Wood
What a great gym! – This fantastic facility was established by George Brosius, a pioneer gymnastics coach and famous “Turner” in the Milwaukee area. You can read more on Brosius and his amazing story here and here. Gotta love the Indian clubs, climbing ropes, and medicine balls. This pictures dates from about 1900.

De Arte Gymnastica by Hieronimus Mercurialis

Posted on Saturday, February 17th, 2018 by John Wood
It doesn’t get any more “Old School” than De Arte Gymnastica by Hieronimus Mercurialis. Published in 1569, this is the oldest book ever written on physical training. It describes exercises as practiced by the classical Greeks and Romans: the value of walking, throwing the discus, climbing ropes, training with heavy balls (i.e. Medicine Balls) and, as seen in the wood cut above, dumbbells and heavy stone tablets called “plummets” — history’s first odd object lifting!
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.

Wellesley College Gymnasium, 1905

Posted on Thursday, March 23rd, 2017 by John Wood
A look at the Wellesley College Gymnasium, circa 1905. This awesome facility was outfitted by A.G. Spalding & Bros. and consisted of 6 Counterbalanced Booms, 42 Stall Bars and Benches, 35 Italian Hemp Climbing Ropes, 12 Rope Ladders, 3 Vaulting Boxes, 3 Vertical Window Ladders, and 12 Balance Beams.
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 West Point Gymnasium, 1895

Posted on Saturday, February 22nd, 2014 by John Wood
In the early 1800’s, the physical education program of the The United States Military Academy was sporadic, and lagged behind other institutions of higher education such as Harvard and Yale. To address this discrepancy, in 1885 West Point hired its first professional physical education instructor, Herman J. Koehler, who revitalized the program and made it one of the finest in the country.

One of Koehler’s major contributions was to secure funding for the building of a new gymnasium which, when completed in August of 1892, was superior to any in the world at the time. The rare shot shown above was how it looked in 1895. Look closely and you’ll see Indian clubs, wall pulleys, climbing ropes, tumbling mats, climbing ladders and many other pieces of classic gymnastic equipment.

Koehler was a member of the famed Frankford Squad.

The Olympic Club Gymnasium

Posted on Wednesday, February 5th, 2014 by John Wood

The Olympic Club Gymnasium

The Olympic Club in San Francisco, California is the oldest athletic club in the United States (established in 1860). The original location didn’t survive the great earthquake of 1906 but they relocated to a new location on Post Street in 1912. This is what their gymnasium looked like, circa 1915.

With plenty of natural lighting, an indoor track, climbing ropes, Indian clubs, balance beams, medicine balls, wall pulleys, climbing ladders and an awesome selection of globe barbells and dumbbells, I’d say this facility is just about all you could ever ask for in a gym.

U.S. Naval Academy Gymnasium, circa 1899

Posted on Friday, November 23rd, 2012 by John Wood

U.S. Naval Acadey Gymnasium 1899

A look at the U.S. Naval Academy Gymnasium, circa 1899 …Climbing ropes …Rowing machines …Pommel Horses …Climbing Ladders …Flying Rings …Tumbling Mats …Look closely and you’ll notice that the entire back wall is covered with racks of Indian Clubs.

Professor Attila’s Studio of Physical Culture

Posted on Tuesday, November 6th, 2012 by John Wood

Professor Attila's Studio of Physical Culture

In 1893, professor Louis Attila opened the doors to the finest gym ever established before or since. Behold “Professor Attila’s Physical Culture Studio.” The above shot was actually the second location, Attila moved his gym in 1898 to a location on 37th street in midtown Manhattan. Needless to say, whenever any professional strongmen performed in New York, they always made a point to stop by Attila’s place.

The Ohio State Armory

Posted on Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012 by John Wood

Ohio State Armory - 1898

I’ve had this picture of this fantastic old gym in my collection for years and it has always been a mystery as to exactly where it was. Recently, thanks to the wonder of the internet, we have found out that this is the interior view of the gymnasium of the Ohio State Armory, in Columbus, Ohio.

This was a pretty typical gym at the time: plenty of wide open space and a variety of available gymnastic training equipment such as traveling rings, medicine balls, tumbling mats, pommel horses and climbing ropes etc. Like most gyms of the period, the training options were basic, but more than enough to obtain good results. The large and very impressive semi-circular beamed roof was specifically designed to allow in plenty of natural light.

The armory was quite a facility, It was built in 1897 and resembled a Medieval castle, turrets and all, as you can see in the exterior shot below.

The 23rd Street Y.M.C.A.

Posted on Tuesday, May 29th, 2012 by John Wood
The 23rd Street Y.M.C.A.
A look at the interior of the famed 23rd street Y.M.C.A. in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City, sometime around 1900. Though the available equipment was spartan by some standards, it was certainly all that was (and is) required to build a high level of strength and vitality.

This facility is actually famous for several other reasons: It was one of the first centers of widespread basketball interest and activity in the US… in fact, the team that practiced in this gym, headed by Alfred “The Kid” Abadie and his brother Bob, won the very first national AAU tournament championship in 1898. Charles Merrill and Edmund Lynch (of Merrill Lynch) are said to have met in the swimming pool sometime in 1913 and, as the story goes, many decades later, it was this location that inspired the Village People song “Y.M.C.A.”

Around a decade ago, the building was sold and this area was turned into luxury apartments.

Archbold Gymnasium, Syracuse University

Posted on Thursday, April 26th, 2012 by John Wood

Archbold Gymnasium, Syracuse University

Keeping very much in line with the motto “A strong mind in a sound body”, in 1908, Archbold Gymnasium on the campus of Syracuse University opened its doors… It was the finest physical training facility in the world at the time, and featured an elevated track, climbing ropes, gymnastic equipment as far as the eye could see, a swimming pool and even several bowling alleys. They actually used to hold entire indoor track meets there. Also of note is the large glass-domed roof which let in plenty of natural light.

An unusual feature that could be found in the basement was an indoor rowing tank, installed so that the crew team could get in some much needed practice in the early spring before the ice melted.

This fabulous gymnasium was named for the oil magnate John D. Archbold, who gave the university the funds to complete the building. Look closely at the top image and you’ll also see the top few rows of Archbold Stadium, once one of the largest open air football stadiums in the country and the current site of the Carrier dome.