Dio Lewis

Posted on Thursday, October 11th, 2018 by John Wood
Dio Lewis was an early physical culture pioneer who was outspoken on the role of temperance, clean living and physical training as a part of education. His system of gymnastics was eventually adopted by schools and laid the groundwork for modern physical education.

The Pommel Horse

Posted on Wednesday, August 29th, 2018 by John Wood
Like most gymnastic events, the Pommel Horse has its roots in military training. In this case approximating mounting and dismounting a real horse. Early pommel horses actually looked like a horse although once it was adopted into physical training the pommel horse became much more symmetrical, thereby allowing for more elaborate moves. It has been said that the pommel horse is one of the most difficult and technically demanding of all the gymnastic events. This shot was taken at the 1896 Olympics.

By the way, the athlete shown here is Carl Schuhmann who won four Olympic Gold Medals in gymnastics and wrestling in Athens. Schuhmann’s first opponent in wrestling was actually Launceston Elliot and beat him handily. Schuhmann also competed in the weightlifting event, finishing fourth.

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.

Douglas Fairbanks Sr.

Posted on Thursday, May 24th, 2018 by John Wood
Before he swashbuckled his way through Hollywood as Zorro, Robin Hood, and The Thief of Baghdad, the silent film star Douglas Fairbanks Sr.worked as a gym instructor and worked up to be able to do a One-Arm Chin-Up. His ability to do this feat, and other feats of derring-do, were regularly featured in his a fore-mentioned classic film roles.

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.

Friedrich Ludwig Jahn

Posted on Monday, April 23rd, 2018 by John Wood
The Father of gymnastics is widely regarded as Friedrich Ludwig Jahn, the German Prussian physical culture pioneer. As a commander in the Military, Jahn was shocked at the poor physical condition of the soldiers during the Napoleonic wars of the early 1800’s. As a result, Jahn devised a system of exercises and games intended to improve strength and stamina.

This gave rise to the Turnverein Movement, or gymnastic societies, which sought not only to build military readiness but also national pride through physical training pursuits.

It was Jahn who devised early models of the gymnastic equipment which are commonly today: the balance beam, horizontal bar, the parallel bars and the vaulting horse.

The 1906 Rutgers University Gymnastics Team

Posted on Thursday, April 30th, 2015 by John Wood
A rare look at the 1906 Rutgers University Gymnastics Team. Captain and horizontal bar and flying rings expert Thomas Devan (class of ’06) is sitting front and center.
On the lower left and right sits club swinging experts Frank Morrison (class of ’09) and Charles Thompson (class of ’08). Morrison won the collegiate club-swinging championship in 1908.
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.

George Roth

Posted on Monday, February 10th, 2014 by John Wood

George Roth

George Roth, from east Hollywood, California, (and eventual USC grad, class of ’42) managed to accomplish a feat which will never again be equaled: at the 1932 Los Angeles games, he won an Olympic gold medal in the sport of Indian club swinging. Club swinging, which was part of the gymnastics program at the time, has not appeared in the Olympic games since then.

Also in the probably-won’t-see-this-again department, Roth, after accepting his gold medal in front of 60,000 people, hitchhiked home.

Philip Erenberg and William Kuhlemeier, also both of the USA, finished with the Silver and Bronze medals respectively. Francisco José Álvarez, of Mexico, finished fourth.

Luigi Monticelli Obizzi

Posted on Sunday, February 9th, 2014 by John Wood

Luigi Monticelli Obizzi

Luigi Monticelli Obizzi, an Italian Marquis, led a very active childhood involved in gymnastics, swimming, fencing and rowing, but did not take up weightlifting until 20 years old.

He found that he was quite adept at it, so much so that in 1890, Obizzi founded the Milan Athletic Club and was instrumental in spreading weightlifting and physical training throughout Europe. At the Italian Weightlifting Championship, he finished 3rd, in 1897, 3rd in 1900 and 2nd in 1901 and 1902.
Working closely with Professor Desbonnet, Obizzi, helped establish the first Weightlifting Championship of France in 1901 (which he also helped judge.) It was under Obizzi’s suggestion that weightlifting contests adopted weight classes, a feature that continues to this day.

Obizzi weighed only 160 pounds but was quite strong, one of his best lifts was a military press of 200 pounds AND he also had a truly excellent mustache.

Before & After

Posted on Friday, September 27th, 2013 by John Wood

Before & After

The “before and after” shot has been a staple in strength training advertising for a long, long time. Above, you’ll see the very first one, circa 1881. D.L. Dowd, subject of the above photos, was a New York professor who was simply tired of being skinny. At first he attempted gymnastics, but with trial and error, and little knowledge of the human body, he gained all of two pounds over the course of a year. Most people would have given up with such pitiful results, but Dowd persevered.

He reasoned that a greater knowledge of anatomy as well as a systematic approach should lead to much better results, which they clearly did. The picture on the right is the result of three years of training with “Dowd’s Health Exerciser” a doorway gym of his own design which allowed him to train each muscle group progressively. Dowd’s “after” picture is certainly still impressive 130+ years later.

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.

“Pudgy” Stockton

Posted on Tuesday, June 11th, 2013 by John Wood
If there ever were a “bar belle” it was Abbye “Pudgy” Stockton. (She acquired the nickname “Pudgy” as a child and it stuck.)”Pudgy” was anything but, she weighed 115 pounds at a height of 5’2″ and, as you can see, was quite the physical specimen — especially impressive at a time when weightlifting for either gender was frowned upon.

She and husband Les Stockton were well-known at the first “Muscle Beach” at Santa Monica, California where they primarily worked on acrobatics and gymnastic feats for the crowds. Aside from being a frequent contributor to Strength and Health Magazine, Pudgy also helped organize the very first weight lifting contest for women through the AAU. In that contest, Stockton pressed 100 pounds, snatched 105 pounds, and clean and jerked 135 pounds.

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.

Luigi “Milo” Brinn

Posted on Thursday, January 24th, 2013 by John Wood
Luigi 'Milo' Brinn
Milo Brinn (born Luigi Borra) performed feats of strength and took on all comers as a wrestler at the famous Folies Berger in Paris. Brinn’s act at the Folies consisted of tumbling and gymnastics, hand balancing, figure display, heavy juggling and feats of supporting and carrying weights. He could perform a crucifix with 66lb. in each hand and could do a one-leg squat holding 60 kg.

As a wrestler, Brinn won the amateur world’s title in 1887 and supposedly once defeated Sandow in a match.