The Evolution of Exercise – Part 1

Good Morning, fitness fans!

Once again, your Sunday gal has been left with no supervision and access to a computer, so I’ve decided to take some of the blogging duties for today.

A little history, just so you know where I’m coming from: my father would have actually made the Phillies’ minor league system if he hadn’t gotten tired of waiting for them to call and joined the Air Force.? My brother went from Army Ranger to publishing a few fitness books and newsletters.? Mom comes from a family of dancers and the other brother was a martial artist.? So, as you can see, there’s a bit of a family history in sports and fitness.

Now, most of you know I’m a guitarist and a geek, but I also used to be a Martial Artist, a fencer and a softball player.? In addition to being sports fiends, my family is also very much into History.

So where better to start than the evolution of exercise?

OK, I’m not exactly going to plod through a year-by-year synopsis of how things have changed, but I’ve witnessed some interesting changes over the last 20 years or so.? At one point, friend Aaron and me had subscriptions to every Martial Arts magazine that existed.? Our time alternated between writing new music, working out and sparring.? I had been raised on weights.? Dad had weights.? My brothers had weights.? Gyms had weights.? My friends had weights.? When my friends and I worked out, we worked out with weights.? Arnold Schwarzenegger wrote a book (a really big one, too) about weights.? Lou Ferrigno (the original Incredible Hulk for those of you who are too young…) used weights.

Which, of course meant that when Aaron showed me an article about body weight exercises it was just wrong.? No weights? Really?? That just couldn’t possibly be right.

Fast forward 20 years.? I look around the gym on Sunday morning and what do I see?? Sure, people are using weights, but they are also using BOSUs, doing old-fashioned push-ups and pull-ups, jumping jacks, squats and variations on all of the aforementioned exercises.

Fitness gurus like Matt Furey are pushing body-weight exercises.? Websites like do the same.? Seems like body-weight exercises are making a comeback.

So where did this all start?? Wrestling has been around for centuries: from grappling competitions in Ancient Greece through to now.? Probably further back than that.? Many of the body-weight exercises we get started in ancient India with Hindu wrestling.? Martial Arts are as old and varied as the Asian countrysides that spawned them.

And most of those traditions were passed from generation to generation.

So what’s the point of all this?? Well some more enterprising individuals put those thoughts down on paper.? One of the most famous was Martin “Farmer” Burns, who, near the turn of the 20th century ran his own wrestling school, with a text book and everything!? OK, it was actually a mail-order course.

Now, I know some of you are thinking “Wrestling text book?”? That’s what I thought until I actually found it.? Just to give you an idea of how exercise has evolved over the last 100 years or so, you can actually download the original 1914 course: The Lessons in Wrestling and Physical Culture.

It is certainly a fitness education.? There are some tried and true exercises, some exercises that I’ve never seen before and I’m sure there might be a few your friendly doctor or trainer might disagree with, so make sure you check before trying any of them.

Hope you enjoy!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *