Exercise and Fitness

Alois Swoboda

His Wikipedia page tells us:

His course did not use apparatus or exercise equipment. Claims in Swoboda's courses included the ability to regrow lost limbs and heal a heart damaged by a heart attack.

Article in POPULAR MECHANICS to be found here.

Posted By: Paul - Tue Jul 03, 2018 - Comments (7)
Category: Body, Bodybuilding, Diseases, Cult Figures and Artifacts, Exercise and Fitness, Frauds, Cons and Scams, Twentieth Century

Baby Olympics (and other ideas of Edwin Paget)

Retired professor Edwin Paget (1902-1989) decided that one of the problems with the world was that babies weren't exercising enough. Therefore, their brains started to go into decline. In an effort to correct this problem, he tried to organize what he claimed were the first ever "baby olympics" in the summer of 1980.

I'm not sure they were ever held, but events would have included "crawling, weightlifing, tug-of-war, 'head-over-heels rolling' and three aquatic events, including the 'leaping fish from the water' swim."

Paget advocated a number of other unusual ideas, such as periodic brain scans for U.S. presidents, to check that their brains had sufficient oxygen levels.

He believed that the rules of basketball should be revised so that the game would be played continuously, with all free throws shot at the end of the game.

And he also designed a line of women's clothing with built-in lighting, saying, "Unlike the bikini, which reveals almost everything, much of which is unattractive, lighting permits a homely girl to reveal only her best, possibly in color."

A former student of his remembers some of Paget's other oddball ideas here.

Twin Falls Times-News - Jun 19, 1980

Lincoln Journal Star - Dec 2, 1979

Auburn Journal - Aug 9, 1981

Bonus: Back in 1965 Paget campaigned to be the first gold prospector on the moon.

source: Historic Images

Amarillo Globe Times - Nov 3, 1965

Posted By: Alex - Wed May 23, 2018 - Comments (2)
Category: Babies, Eccentrics, Exercise and Fitness

Electric horse for exercise

Evidently there's a long history of horse riding simulators as exercise devices.

Electro-mechanical horse with five gaits
ranging from a trot to a running gallop.

Some of the benefits of horseback riding as a form of exercise can be obtained indoors with the aid of an electro-mechanical horse which not only provides fun for the children but sport for grown-ups as well. At a touch on the reins, the horse can be induced to break into any one of five gaits ranging from a trot to a gallop.
Source:Popular Mechanics - May 1936

A modern-day simulator — that no longer looks like an actual horse:

Update: another old time indoor horse exercise machine.

Posted By: Alex - Sun Jul 30, 2017 - Comments (5)
Category: Exercise and Fitness

Peace Pilgrim II

The Peace Pilgrim (aka Mildred Lisette Norman) is fairly famous. In 1953 she began walking across America, wearing a shirt that said "Peace Pilgrim," and vowed to keep walking "until mankind has learned the way of peace." She was already an experienced walker when she started this, having been the first woman to hike the entire Appalachian trail in one season. She walked for 28 years until her death in 1981, logging over 25,000 miles.

Peace Pilgrim II (aka Ronald Podrow) isn't quite as famous or inspirational. In 1989, inspired by the first Peace Pilgrim, he adopted her name and also began walking to promote peace. But unlike her, he wasn't an experienced walker. From wikipedia:

Peace Pilgrim II was only able to walk the first year of his pilgrimage. After 2,000 miles on foot, his hips required surgical replacement, but he continued his pilgrimage thereafter with the aid of a donated car and Social Security benefits.

Peace Pilgrim II wrote a book about his experiences, Enjoying the Journey: The Adventures, Travels, and Teachings of Peace Pilgrim II. It was published in 1995.

More info.

Posted By: Alex - Sun Jul 02, 2017 - Comments (5)
Category: Exercise and Fitness, War

Chore your way to fitness

In 1972, Sears, Roebuck & Co. commissioned fitness expert Nicholas Kounovsky to devise exercises that could be done by housewives while vacuuming. He came up with the "Chore Your Way to Fitness" program. He wrote, "Your vacuum cleaner becomes a portable gym, and you can help tone up lazy muscles as you do your routine cleaning chores."

It sounds like this program was outlined in a pamphlet of some kind. But unfortunately I haven't been able to find a copy of this pamphlet anywhere.

The general concept reminds me of an earlier post from way back in 2012 — Jayne Mansfield's tips on exercising with a broomstick.

The Vidette Messenger - Dec 11, 1972

The San Mateo Times - Sep 27, 1972

The Joy of Feeling Fit, by Nicholas Kounovsky

Posted By: Alex - Fri Feb 10, 2017 - Comments (3)
Category: Exercise and Fitness, 1970s

Chicago’s Acro-Theater

Plays that also featured acrobatic & gymnastic stunts. I'm thinking Shakespeare should be performed this way. Hamlet's soliloquy delivered on a trampoline.

More in extended >>

Posted By: Paul - Tue Apr 05, 2016 - Comments (9)
Category: Entertainment, Exercise and Fitness, Regionalism, Sports, Performance Art, 1940s, 1950s

Rage Yoga

It's like regular yoga, except with a lot of shouting, swearing, screaming, and heavy metal music. Also, the classes are held in the basement of a pub. I wonder if Patanjali would approve?

Rage Yoga's creator, Lindsay Istace, describes herself as a "professional weirdo."

More info:, Facebook, CBC News

Posted By: Alex - Wed Mar 02, 2016 - Comments (6)
Category: Exercise and Fitness

Cheerleader drops dead after team loses

1953: Diane Rinkes, 15-year-old cheerleader for East Lansing high school in Michigan, gave it her all for her team, but it wasn't enough. Her team lost, and then she dropped dead.

When I first read this story, I assumed that there must have been some kind of underlying medical condition that caused her death. 15-year-old girls don't simply drop dead for no reason.

But in a follow-up report it says that the Coroner diagnosed the cause of death as "acute shock and acute circulatory collapse... brought on by overexertion." He elaborated that Rinkes worked herself up into such a "tremendous pitch of excitement during the football game" that it caused her death.

So she died of over-excitement. You have to wonder if she would have lived if her team had won.

The Anniston Star - Sep 25, 1953

The Holland Evening Sentinel - Sep 25, 1953

Posted By: Alex - Wed Sep 30, 2015 - Comments (5)
Category: Death, Exercise and Fitness, 1950s

Unfit Bits

Tega Brain and Surya Mattu have come up with an "art project" (Unfit Bits) that gives people practical tips on how to cheat fitness trackers, such as the Fitbit. Why would you want to cheat a fitness tracker? Perhaps because your employer is offering a financial incentive to wear the tracker and is then monitoring your data and sharing that data with an insurance company. So screw them. Take their money and supply them with a stream of bogus data.

The cheat methods are as easy as tying the tracker to a pendulum or to the branch of a tree, to make it think you're walking around when you're really slouching in front of the TV. Notes Mattu, "We’re putting this kind of trust into devices that are very simple. Unfit Bits shows how silly the data is from these kinds of sensors." More info at

Unfit Bits from Surya Mattu on Vimeo.

Posted By: Alex - Wed Sep 23, 2015 - Comments (9)
Category: Art, Exercise and Fitness, Technology

To All Things Moderation

Good news fellow couch potatoes! Long distance, strenuous joggers have the same mortality rate as sedentary people. On the other hand, the Danish study says moderate jogging does improve the mortality rate. Mmm danish...

Posted By: patty - Tue Feb 03, 2015 - Comments (4)
Category: Death, Exercise and Fitness

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Alex is the creator and curator of the Museum of Hoaxes. He's also the author of various weird, non-fiction, science-themed books such as Elephants on Acid and Psychedelic Apes.

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