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 a 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
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 proper apparatus 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.
-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.
-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.
Lower Extremities. -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.
The Trapese. -This simple
gymnastic apparatus affords an immense variety of healthful exercises,
increasing the capacity of the trunk and upper limbs. The adjoining
figures show three favorite positions: First, grasp the bar firmly
with the hands, at a distance apart sufficiently to let the body
pass between them, the backs of the hands upward, and the fingers
and thumb meeting; bend the legs forward, at the same time lowering
the body until the arms are fully extended; second, lift the
feet upward, the arms remaining straight, until the feet are
as high as the bar; bend the arms and elevate the body until
the waist is on a level with the bar; pass the lower limbs over
bar, the body following; third, lower the body completing the
circle, and slowly descend until the feet reach the ground.
The Rings. -Combined rings
give a varied course of movements, similar to those brought about
on the trapeze. The rings should be each five inches in diameter,
and suspended some five or six feet from the floor, and about
eighteen inches apart. The cut shows three favorite movements:
First, the pupil, standing between the rings, grasp one in each
hand, lowers his body till the arms are fully extended, extends
his feet, and holds his legs in a horizontal position. Second,
he then throws both feet upwards, turning a somersault between
the rings, the arms and legs being held straight throughout.
Third, a slow descent is then made to the ground, completing
the circle and relinguishing the grasp.
The Horizontal Bar. -The
exercises upon this gymnastic appliance are very valuable for
the distinct reasons : first, on account of their own intrinsic
merit, and, second, from the circumstance that they are capable
of being executed by an entire class at the same time, all obeying
the same word of command. Favorite movements are shown in the
cut: First, the travel along the bar with the arms bent, the
right hand leading; second, passage along the bar with the legs
bent at the knees; third, springing from the ground and grasping
the bar on its right and left sides with both hands, passing
the left leg over the bar, and the right leg over the left; fourth,
raising the body above the bar, and assuming a position with
hands and left leg supporting the body on the bar.