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"Vintage Gymnasiums"

...You Sure Don't See 'Em Like This Any More...

It used to be that "A Sound Mind in a Strong Body" wasn't just a bunch of words... We've already taken a look at some great Modern Gyms but let's step into the time machine and take a look back at the great gymnasiums of decades past. There were, of course, "gyms" during the same time periods but gymnasiums provided a much different training experience which was more "classical" in nature.

At these gyms you'll often see some wooden dumbbells, Indian clubs and medicine balls, but few, if any, heavy barbells or dumbbells. Instead, at these gymnasiums you'll find all the great elements of classical physical education: climbing ropes, tumbling mats, gymnastic rings, climbing ladders, parallel bars, climbing ladders, Pommel Horses, Swedish Bars, Balance Beams and plenty more...

And, of course, all of this wasn't just thrown in any old room, these gymnasiums were spectacles in themselves with plenty of dark wood paneling, brass fixtures and open spaces -- truly works of art:

Hemenway Gymnasium, Cambridge Massachusetts c. 1887

Dudley Allen Sargent's famous Hemenway Gymnasium in Cambridge, Massachusetts circa 1896. With Sargent at the helm, Hemenway Gymnasium became the center of the physical training world in the U.S. in the late 1800's. It's not hard to see why -- the presentation is breathtaking. There aren't many physical training goals you couldn't accomplish in a gymnasium like this. Thousands of students built up their bodies here during Sargent's tenure.

Men's Christian Association gymnasium, Longacre, London, c. 1888.

This impressive gymnasium was opened by the Prince of Wales on June 16, 1888. A group of men swing light Indian clubs while others climb ropes, use the parallel bars and engage in many other physical training exercises.
Braddock Carnegie Free Library, Braddock, Pennsylvania c. 1893

A sound mind in a strong body indeed - this great gymnasium was on the upper floor of the Carnegie Free Library in Braddock, Pennsylvania. (The very first Carnegie Library in the US - and I hear it's still in operation.) Note the climbing rope tambourines in the middle of this picture.


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