Harry Truman’s 1948 White House Gym

Posted on Thursday, October 11th, 2018 by John Wood
A look at Truman’s gym in the White House, circa 1948. It is sparse, but certainly contains everything someone would need to stay in shape: medicine balls, Swedish Bars, Wall Pulleys, Gymnastic Rings, Rowing machine, health rider bike, situp board, and a rack of dumbbells (more of which are out of the frame.)

Wall Pulleys

Posted on Monday, September 24th, 2018 by John Wood
Wall Pulleys were one of the first commercially available pieces of training equipment and were a common sight in gyms in the later 19th and early 20th century. Pugilists used to use them for building punching power as well as developing upper body endurance.

Here the great Light-heavyweight boxer from Philadelphia Tommy Loughran gets in a quick workout while his trainer Jack Brady looks on. These two shots are especially rare as they are two different shots taken at the same moment from two different cameras. They were taken in 1929.

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.

Clark Gable

Posted on Friday, June 29th, 2018 by John Wood
Being a swashbuckling leading man in Hollywood is tough work, which is why Clark Gable here, regularly engaged in physical training throughout his acting career. Not only that, but the posture, and body control developed from this training increased screen presence – Gable was one of the most popular actors of his time. The wall pulleys are likely from The Narragansett Machine Company.

This shot was taken in the Paramount studios gymnasium, circa 1937 (which was a barn on one of the back lots.) Steve McQueen was famously photographed training in the very same gym a few decades 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.

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 Columbia Gymnasium

Posted on Monday, January 20th, 2014 by John Wood

Columbia Gymnasium

A look at the Columbia University (then college) gymnasium circa 1905. The wall pulleys were made by The Narragansett Machine Company and were state of the art back then. The intended training was gymnastic oriented as was common during this time frame, but one could certainly still achieve very good results with this equipment selection. With so much open space and natural light, this would have been a fun place to train.

The Myrtle Street Gymnasium, 1865

Posted on Wednesday, March 21st, 2012 by John Wood

The Myrtle Street Gymnasium, Liverpool

Liverpool Gymnasium
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.