Here’s one for the “betcha-didn’t-know-this-one” pile: Here we have a vintage advertisement for “The Geisel Exerciser” which appeared in the December, 1907 issue of Bernarr McFadden’s ‘Physical Culture’ magazine. This device was actually patented in 1906 and is composed of a rod, encased by a heavy spring with a pair of handles. One uses it by grasping the handles and pushing or pulling them together in various positions. And this Geisel fellow from Springfield, Mass. who invented it? It doesn’t appear that he made a tremendous splash in the physical training field but his son Theodor would go on to become well known as Dr. Seuss of children’s book fame.
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.
A look at a German Sport club, circa 1903. As for their equipment, as was the custom with German-style kettlebells, the handles were large and open to enable juggling… the barbells also appear to have thick handles, which encourage grip and forearm development.