Sandow could perform a back somersault with a 56 pound dumbbell in each hand which is pretty amazing when you think about it.
Like many early strongmen, Sandow’s early training consisted of basic gymnastics movements, calisthenics and hand balancing — all of which continued to serve him well throughout his career.
Herrmann’s gym, once located at 1325 Chestnut Street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was one of the popular hangouts for many of the strength stars of the early 20th century, most notably Sig Klein and Milo Steinborn, who performed a number of strength feats there. Sandow trained at Herrmann’s place whenever he visited the US. At Hermann’s, classes were taught in boxing, wrestling, fencing, body-building, calisthenics, Indian Clubs, gymnastics and acrobatics.
This picture was taken in 1931 and shows Milo Steinborn getting in a quick workout on the newly added open-air section of the gym (used for hand ball and training in the fresh air and sun shine, among other pursuits.) Herrmann’s son (also named William) won the bronze medal in tumbling at the 1932 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.
Against thousands of the best athletes that Europe had to offer, Brosius’ team shocked the world in 1880 by winning five out of twenty-two prizes at the international gymnastic competition held at Frankfurt, Germany. They also took first place in a separate German wrestling competition.
From left to right: Hermann J. Koehler(2nd prize, also Brosius’ nephew, FYI) , Anton Schaefer (4th prize), Friedrich Kasten, Carl Paul (21st prize), Wilhelm Lachenmaier, Otto Wagner (3rd prize), Carl Mueller (5th prize), George Brosius (director)
Also of note is the bust of Friedrich Ludwig Jahn looking down from above.
A look at two rare engravings of the front and interior the Myrtle Street Gymnasium in Liverpool, England, which officially opened on November 6th, 1865.
This facility was the finest in the world at the time, and offered training in the British, Swedish, German and American gymnastic systems as well as fencing, rowing, swimming, cycling and other athletic pursuits.
Look closely and you will see climbing ropes and ladders, wall pulleys, barbell and dumbbell lifting, wall pulleys and a variety of other interesting methods of training (including a live horse!)
The “Gymnasiarch” of this facility was Mr. John Hulley, who was one of the co-founders of the Liverpool Athletic Club and who helped organize the first Olympic Festivals. These early athletic contests gave rise to the “Modern” Olympic games.
It was Burrows’ feeling was that swinging Indian Clubs was the finest all around exercise for health and strength.
In this particular course, Exercise 1 is for chest expansion, balance and leg development… Exercise 2 is for building the waist and arms… Exercise 3 works the trunk… Exercise 4 develops the shoulders and thigh muscles… Exercise 5 is for the abdominals… Exercise 6 works the arms, legs, trunk and thighs… Exercise 7 is for chest development and Exercise 8 is for arms, legs and trunk development.
Hewlett is pictured here with the tools of his craft: boxing gloves, Indian Clubs, Dumbbells, medicine balls and the wooden wand. It should also be known that this picture represents the very first time a medicine ball was photographed in the US (taken around 1860). Interestingly, at the time most physical culture figures generally recommended very light apparatus work but Hewlett appeared to favor much heavier clubs and dumbbells. Also of note are those pretty nifty “dumbbell clubs” on the left.
Two other items of interest about Mr. Molyneaux: His daughter, Virginia married Frederick Douglass. In 1900, his son, E.M. Hewlett, became the first African American lawyer to win a case before the Supreme Court of the United States (Carter vs. Texas).