“The prescription [of exercise] is methodically composed according to the needs and condition of the patient.”
– Dr Gustav Zander, 1894
The fitted suits and body-sculpting corsets are optional when it comes to getting in shape. The key part is movement using the machines designed by Doctor Gustaf Zander (29 March 1835 in Stockholm – 17 June 1920) more than 150 years ago. We commend to your attention the vibrating horse-rider.
In 1857 Dr. Zander was employed as a physician and gymnastics teacher. With time short and the class large, he realised that one-on-one tuition was impossible. The solution was to devise apparatus to help. His wooden machines featured weights, levers and springs to provide a force of resistance. Initially operated by muscle power, from 1868, steam engines were added and, in the 1890s, these were replaced by electric motors.
Word spread about Dr. Zander’s tools for mechanotherapy (“the employment of mechanical means for the cure of disease”). In 1865, the first Zander Institute opened in Stockholm. In 1911, there were 300 Zander Institutes around the world. The ill-fated Titanic featured an exercise room with Zander’s famous gymnastic apparatus.
These images, from his 1892 book Dr. G. Zander’s medico-mechanische Gymnastik, feature a wide variety of exercise apparatus, as demonstrated by well-dressed Victorian models.
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