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Posts Tagged ‘fitness

“Civilization impairs physical fitness”*…

 

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American opera singer Roberta Peters (second from right, on table) works out on strength training equipment as her trainer, Joseph Pilates, stands on a table beside her. Also in the room are PIlates’ wife Clara (right) and her own, unidentified trainee (standing), February 1951.

 

By the early 1930s, Pilates was challenging the norms of physical culture in New York, advocating for holistic movement and upending ideas that athletic mastery — whether throwing a baseball or standing en pointe — could be achieved solely through those sports alone. He shaped a new vision of the body; abdominal muscles were not merely a source of core strength, he explained, but the basis of respiratory control, and while most trainers focused on major muscle groups, he sought to activate the equally important connective musculature to lengthen the entire body. At the same time, Pilates began teaching expecting mothers. Conventional medical knowledge long forbade exercise for pregnant women, but that started to shift as many women found the exercises helpful in regulating breath and regaining muscle tone.

On any given afternoon in his studio, you could find an eclectic crowd, from Broadway actors and ballet dancers to lawyers and housewives, all breathing rhythmically as Joseph or Clara led them through various exercises: the pulling of ropes atop structures that resembled patient beds at Knockaloe, measured twisting of the body, extensions of the arms and legs, and circular motions from the hips. For some, the practice was integral to their careers; for many, it simply offered a curious respite from the world, a place to feel their bodies engaged in measured, reciprocal movements at a time when the strains of the Great Depression, and later the terrors of the Second World War, fell over New York and the whole country. Indeed, there was comfort in the opportunity to tend to one’s body as an anatomical creation with underlying principles, and dubious clients were often convinced by Joseph’s playful analogies. “Take a horse,” he’d often say to patients. “If a man wants to race him, he keeps him in top form. He makes the horse move. Why not keep humans in top form, too?”…

Interned during WWI, circus entertainer Joseph Pilates used found materials and his fellow prisoners as his test lab, and imagined an exercise system that would captivate millions: “The Acrobatic Immigrant Who Invented Pilates in a Prisoner of War Camp.”

* Joseph Pilates

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As we bear down on breathing, we might recall that it was on this date in 1930 that The Motion Picture Production Code was instituted, imposing strict guidelines on the treatment of sex, crime, religion, and violence in film in the U.S.  Popularly known as the Hays Code, after Will H. Hays, who was the president of the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America (MPPDA, AKA the Motion Picture Association of America) from 1922 to 1945, it had become largely unenforceable by the late 1960s, and was abandoned, replaced by the MPAA rating system.

Motion_Picture_Production_Code source

 

 

Written by LW

March 31, 2020 at 1:01 am

“I’m so unfamiliar with the gym, I call it James”*…

 

These wonderful photographs, which make such innovative use of multiple exposure, are from a 1913 German book titled Schwedische Haus-Gymnastik nach dem System P.H. Ling’s by Theodor Bergquist, Director of the Swedish Gymnastic Institute in the Bavarian spa town of Bad Wörishofen. As the title tells us, this style of “Swedish house-gymnastics” demonstrated by Bergquist (and his mysterious female colleague) is based on a system developed by Pehr Henrik Ling (1776–1839), a pioneer in the teaching of physical education in Sweden. Inventor of various physical education apparatus including the box horse, wall bars, and beams, Ling is also credited with establishing calisthenics as a distinct discipline and is considered by some as the father of Swedish massage.

* Ellen DeGeneres

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As we affirm our faithfulness to fitness, we might spare a thought for Wilhelm Weber; he died on this date in 1963.  A German gymnast, he medaled twice for his country at the 1904 Summer Olympics in St. Louis.

The 1904 German Olympic team

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“If we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise… we would have found the safest way to health”*…

 

From Richard Florida and his team at the Martin Prosperity Institute, a mapping of the American Fitness Index™ (AFI) (which rates metros on individual health indicators like vegetable consumption and daily physical activity, as well as community or environmental indicators like walkability or proximity to a local park): cities with a low fitness score are shown in blue, while cities with a high fitness score are shown in dark purple.

The group then analyzed the data against the key socioeconomic characteristics of these metros.  Fitness, it emerges, is highly correlated with a city’s wealth/affluence, education level, and proximity to tech industry centers…

For all the talk of fitness that permeates the American zeitgeist—from reality shows like The Biggest Loser to the First Lady’s “Let’s Move!” campaign to combat childhood obesity—we don’t often explore the more subtle factors that contribute to a healthy lifestyle. As beneficial as exercise and mindful eating may be, the overall health of our lifestyles is not just the product of a series of good decisions. It is also the result of how our culture and society is structured. At the end of the day, fitness is consistently tied up with our affluence, jobs, education, and class position—all of which are partially contingent on where we live. With the success of fit cities comes the unfortunate reality that these cities reflect yet another gripping image of our country’s great divide along economic and class lines.

More data and analysis at “America’s Great Fitness Divide.”

And on a related front, see also: “These Victorian-Era Diseases Are Making a Comeback in a City Near You.” Gout, scurvy, and rickets– who’d have thunk it.

* Hippocrates

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As we drop and do 50, we might recall that it was on this date in 1889 that U.S. Patent #396,089 was issues to Daniel Johnson for a “Rotary Dining Table.”  Johnson’s innovation was to combine a “rotary table and adjustable chair adapted for saloons of sea-going vessels and of other descriptions, in which the occupants of the chairs may be served in rotation from one stationary base of supply without the danger and inconvenience incident to the person making the circuit of the table when the vessel is upon the seas, and also enabling the persons seated at the table to be served with dispatch.”  The entire table with its attached chairs was supported on one central rotating shaft – making the seated persons part of a human “Lazy Susan.”

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Written by LW

January 15, 2016 at 1:01 am

Exercise for the rest of us…

Joanna Rohrback demonstrates the rudiments of Prancercise®:The Art of Physical and Spiritual Excellence:

email readers click here

A springy, rhythmic way of moving forward, similar to a horse’s gait and ideally induced by elation. It’s about Self-Expression. It’s about Non-violence. It’s about Conservation…

In any case, as a quick look at the video will show, it’ll revolutionize one’s image.

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As we Prance!, we might recall that it was on this date in 1913 that Georgia Ann Thompson “Tiny” Broadwick became the first woman to parachute from an airplane.  At age 15, Tiny (so named as she was 5 feet tall and weighed 85 pounds), visited a carnival at which the dramatic climax was a parachute jump from a balloon. Enthralled, Tiny joined the show and became a star attraction.  In 1913, the troupe was in Los Angeles, where Tiny met pilot Glenn L. Martin, who asked Tiny to test out an airplane trap seat he had designed… she did, and history was made.

Tiny and her clippings

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Written by LW

June 21, 2013 at 1:01 am

Fitness for the rest of us…

“All you need is a chair and two paper plates…”

[TotH to Everlasting Blort]

As we commit ourselves to continuous improvement, we might recall that it was on this date in 1878 that C.A. Parker (Harvard, Class of 1880) won the first American bicycle race, run at Beacon Trotting Park in Allston (Massachusetts), a half-mile course designed for sulky racing.  A Doubletree Hotel currently stands on the spot.

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Vaulting pole…

Facing the waist-line challenges that lie ahead on this day of calorie-soaked celebration, a reader’s thoughts might well turn to exercise…

Most Americans are aware of the craze-let that purports to turn pole dancing into a fitness routine.

But as reader MK points out, in India poles are a guy’s domain– and are the locus of some pretty extraordinary moves; here, a look at the traditional sport– it dates back at least as far as the Twelfth Century– they call “Mallakhamb“…

 

As we marvel at the mastery, we might recall that it was on this date in 1952 that Agatha Christie’s mystery play The Mousetrap opened in London’s West End– where it has run, without interruption, since.

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It takes one to know one…

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With the single exception of Homer, there is no eminent writer, not even Sir Walter Scott, whom I can despise so entirely as I despise Shakespeare….
– George Bernard Shaw

Am reading more of Oscar Wilde. What a tiresome, affected sod.
– Noel Coward

A hack writer who would not have been considered fourth rate in Europe, who tricked out a few of the old proven sure fire literary skeletons with sufficient local color to intrigue the superficial and the lazy.
– William Faulkner, on Mark Twain

The gifted can be so…  ungenerous to each other:  from Examiner.com, “The 50 best author vs. author put-downs of all time.”

As we consider that this may in any case be better than log-rolling, we might recall that it was on this date in 1982 that a member of the Hollywood nobility– two-time Oscar-winning actress, model, and anti-war activist Jane Fonda– released her first exercise tape.

Building on the success of her workout book, published the prior year, the tape helped Fonda popularize workouts for women, workouts in groups, workout videos, and indeed aerobics in general (a family of trends on which Richard Simmons, Judi “Jazzercise” Missett and many others have ridden).  Fonda invested the proceeds of what became a fitness empire into the Campaign for Economic Democracy, an advocacy group founded by her then-husband Tom Hayden (of Chicago Eight renown).   Fonda and Hayden divorced in 1989, and Fonda retired from the spotlight (though, of course, she has returned to the movie screen in the last few years).

The tape that started it all

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