Principle of Gymnastics.
-The great principle of gymnastic exercise is the development
of the body by special movements or apparatus particularly adapted
for the purpose.
Harmony of Development.
-It is obvious that by a complete series of appliances all portions
of the muscular system may be judiciously invigorated, the result
being an harmonious development of the entire frame.
Gaining the Object. -In
order to make sure of the above object, it would be well for
each one to study his weak spots and constitutional tendencies,
that the right methods may be brought into play, at the right
time and in the right way. The person should pass through a medical
ex- imitation, and a trainer should be secured whose experience
will prevent mistakes.
Bodily Tests. -In devising
any system of examination, whether of individuals or classes,
the aim is to establish the capacity of each person by a series
of measurements and tests of strength, taken in conjunction with
his family history, showing his vigor and weakness.
Tendency to Over-Exercise.
-It is the fault of those who need and indulge in gymnastics
to indulge it too much, or, at least, to bring into play the
parts which are already strong. Such persons need to be guided
and schooled, for they are not only developing parts which do
not need it, but are neglecting the very parts that do. There
can be no harmonious development in such cases.
Machine Tests. -Tests of
strength are made in gymnasium by certain machines. At the same
time physical peculiarities are noted. After this the examiner
can point out the man who is inclined to be pigeon-breasted,
and prescribe the apparatus proper to be used. He can suggest
to the man with weak lungs the use of the rowing machine. So
he can instruct one with feeble heart to moderate work; can regulate
the amount and kind of work for one of slow circulation and of
a tendency to grow fat; can even point out the diet for rheumatic
people, and the clothing for consumptives.
These tests should be repeated from time to time and their results
carefully noted, so that the degrees of development may be observed,
and new courses of procedure prescribed, if necessary.
Gymnastic Machines. -Dr.
Ford, of Philadelphia, has carried his gymnastic machines to
great perfection. They are for the most part simple and can be
readily constructed for home use by anyone with a little ingenuity.
One of his machines is a lifting one and is so arranged as to
adapt the lifting power of the individual to his need of development
along the lines most benefited by the lifting process.
Improvement of the Flexors.
-The adjoining figure shows a machine which may be constructed
by anyone for home or school exercise. It is composed of a strong
oak frame, from the upper part of which project two horizontal
arms about breast high, united in front by a strong cross-bar.
The inner side of each arm is grooved for a slicking frame connected
behind by means of a rope over a pulley, with a box in which
suitable weights are placed. The object of the machine is to
exercise the flexor muscles of the forearm, and so improve the
grip. In using it one or both hands are placed in the position
indicated by the cut, and the weight lifted by the movement of
shutting the fingers, as in clenching the fist.
The Windlass. - The left-hand
figure is also an apparatus for strengthening the wrists and
muscles of the forearm, and of the arm proper to the shoulder.
It is a smooth, round wooden bar about an inch and a half in
diameter, and so arranged as to, revolve rapidly. As it rotates
it coils a rope around its thicker portion, which raises a box
containing weights sufficient to produce a due amount of fatigue
in the forearm muscles of the learner.
Figure. -The figure to the right is for the development of
the upper arm, shoulder and chest muscles, and is especially
valuable to those who have inherited a consumptive tendency.
It is a stout frame, with sockets near the top for a metallic
axle, operated by a cross- bar, so as to lift the weight supported
by a rope passing over two pulleys. On account of the short arm
of the lever the pupil's strength is taxed to rotate the cross-bar,
and the muscles are correspondingly exercised. As practice goes
on the poundage of the weights may be increased. Proper postures
of the body should be carefully observed in this exercise.
Dr. Ford's Gymnasium. -Dr.
W. A. Ford, of Philadelphia, has carried the variety and construction
of gymnastic apparatus to great perfection in his gymnasium.
His appliances are all based on perfect development of the body,
part by part, and according to ascertained rules fitted to weak
and strong bodies, and to various conditions of life.
-Among Dr. Ford's appliances is an ingenious machine for developing
the lower extremities. It consists, as seen in the adjoining
figure, of a chair in which the pupil seats himself, rests his
arms upon its arms, and grasps the extremities firmly.
Vaulting by Back Lift.
-In this the bar is grasped as before described, and then putting
forth a vigorous effort with both hands and feet, simultaneously
throw the body over the bar in a straight line vertically above
the head, the arms bending during its ascent, the elbows held
close by the sides, the head and shoulders inclined to the front,
the column of the body and the lower limbs, with the toes pointing
upward, making a vertical line when above the bar, as seen in
the ad- joining figure.
The Vaulting Horse. - This
is a higher order of machine than the bar. It plays an important
part in the cavalry drill of soldiers. The body of the vaulting
horse should be perfectly smooth, the top and sides covered with
leather, the upper portion stuffed with hair. The pommels should
be movable, and the legs provided with slides, so that the horse
can be set firmly at any height between three and six feet. The
exercise consists of three parts. In the first posture the body
is erect, with the hands resting on the horse; in the second
the body is raised by the strength of the arms; in the third
the right leg has been thrown over the horse, the mount made,
and the body thrown into proper position.
Parallel Bars. -Parallel
bars are simply constructed and give a rise to a variety of movements,
bringing into play chiefly the muscles of the trunk and arms.
These movements may be divided into three series. The first consists
of traveling along the bars with the hands, backward and forward.
The second comprises movements of oscillation between the bars.
The third is made by combinations of the other two.