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.
I’ve seen it written that kettlebells were completely unknown in the US until the late 90’s but that’s not exactly true… I wouldn’t say that they were tremendously popular, but people have certainly known about kettlebells on these shores and trained with them for many years prior. Sig Klein was always big fan of kettlebells and discussed them often in his articles and courses. To give you one example, this article, “Kettlebells for ‘Different’ Development” appeared in Strength and Health magazine in the late 1950’s.
Here’s a rare look at a German weightlifting team circa 1904, and below, a closer look at their outstanding equipment. As was standard for the time period, the kettlebells had large, open handles as they were frequently used for juggling.
A look at the members of the Treubund (Lüneburg, Germany) Sport-club, circa 1903, and their fantastic equipment.
Another look at a German Kettlebell Juggling team in action. If you know your kettlebell history, you already know that German Kettlebells had specially designed handles which were more conducive to flipping and catching.
A look at a German weightlifting club, circa 1915 and a rather large selection of their truly excellent training equipment. This club was clearly a big fan of kettlebell training. The large, squared handles would indicate that they did a lot of kettlebell juggling. Look close and you’ll see at least one, possibly two rotating barbell sets – a rarity for the time.
A look at a German kettlebell club from the turn of the last century and a selection of their awesome equipment. German strength athletes were particularly fond of juggling their kettlebells, hence “German” kettlebells had much larger and more pronounced handles. Also of note is the fact that most of the barbells have thick handles.
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.