Sunday, 19 April 2009

Illustrated Book Of The Week -How to Get Strong and How to Stay So


In the immortal words of Olivia Newton-John - "let's get physical (physical)". 

This weeks illustrated book is another selection from the Ellis-Jayne Library of Esoterica. It's a fitness classic from 1883 - William Blaikie's How to Get Strong, and How to Stay So. This was the Jane Fonda's Workout of the era - a best-selling guide to health and fitness. Sadly there are rather less headbands in action - but the magnificent beards definitely make up for that.


Blaikie was one of the first people to popularise the idea of exercise as a path to well being. Common opinion in the nineteenth century held that inactivity was the safest way to avoid illness. People would take 'rest cures' and swore that fresh air would solve most physical problems.


The idea that strength training and physical movement would lead to a healthy body was radical - and Blaikie's beliefs were way ahead of their time. The exercise machines that he recommends do look slightly terrifying - but the principles that he talks about are still widely in practice.


This is just a very scary looking 'abdominiser'. Apparently all those Victorian gents had six-packs under their tailcoats...

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