All images taken from the Wellcome Library
Only recently a leather bound book was discovered which contained a remarkable historic account written in 1861 by Gustav Ernst, an orthopaedic machinist who was based in London and who is credited as having invented the portable home gym. While it is abundantly clear that the whole concept of the gymnasium designed purely for exercise has changed beyond recognition, along with ‘gym attire’, it is also a clear indication of how the Victorians were a keen to recognise the importance of exercise.
Ernst was eager to encourage exercise, despite the fact it was seen as being "devoid of all interest and reduced to a mere display of physical power", as he also promoted the fact that there were great gains to be made. He was also very astute and many of his suggestions for exercise still hold water today, such as: "Far more benefit is to be derived from a quarter of an hour's practice repeated four times a day than from one hour's continuous use."
As important as it is today, Ernst was also aware of the dangers of over exercising, to the point where he stated: "Generally invigorating as this exercise is, it is correspondingly fatiguing and should not therefore be recklessly persevered, especially by pupils possessing but a small amount of physical strength."
We are obliged to the BBC who published this article and it certainly appealed to us here at Kustom Kit Gym Equipment in Wrington, near Bristol. We may not have been making commercial gym equipment for the last 150 years, but we like to think that the gym equipment we manufacture today is a little more up to date than the items shown on the right, even if some of the principles have remained remarkably relevant. Our particular favourite is the fourth image of a woman who seems to be using an early form of ‘step’ machine with combined traction and extension – an exercise which has become no easier with the passage of time, though wearing a dress with several petticoats underneath can’t have helped!
With the Summer Olympics rapidly approaching, there is always a wonderful legacy resulting, and that is the encouragement that so many of the sports give to future generations, and the spur that many athletes and sportsmen need that are just too young this year, but who will be in prime form in four years’ time. These are the elite athletes we look to create custom built commercial gym equipment for, and for the first class gymnasiums they attend with the finest quality equipment. There is no ‘one size fits all’ for every sport where gym equipment is concerned, and depending on your chosen sport, you will use equipment specifically designed to maximise the benefits of the time you spend pushing yourself to the limit in the gym.
To find out who we have helped and how we can help you, just get in touch or make an appointment to come down and see us – we think you will be amazed at what we can do, and what better way to appreciate the fantastic quality of the equipment we produce.