Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Calisthenics for Ladies and Turn of the Century Gym Clothes

From Cassell's Household Guide
via Victorian London.

From Cassell's Household Guide, Volume One:

"THE word "calisthenics" is derived from the Greek, "kalos," beautiful; and "sthenos," strength; the object of calisthenic exercises being to secure physical beauty by developing the limbs and muscles of the human frame, and making the joints flexible, thereby giving strength and power, and ensuring a graceful carriage, erect bearing, and freedom to the figure...  

It is a very usual plan in America and France, where the subject has been carefully studied, to wear a special costume, consisting of a loose blouse, with a sash at the waist, and Turkish trousers; or in place of the blouse, a Garibaldi bodice and skirt; dark blue serge with white or scarlet braid, or unglazed holland with the same sort of trimming, are most in favour, being both strong and light. Grey and red is another favourite mixture. The boots should be an easy fit, with low heels. Our illustration (Fig. 1) will show that such a dress, while ensuring perfect ease and liberty of action to the wearer, is by no means unbecoming."

Browse the rest of the chapter on calisthenics. Fascinating!

California, 1912.
Holding a weighted exercise stick.
The Vintage Traveler.

Circa 1865-70.
Missing the overskirt.
The Vintage Traveler.

Cotton, c.1910.
The Vintage Traveler.

From My Ear Trumpet Has Been
Struck by Lighting

From the Victorian Picture Library.

Can you imagine what they would have thought of kick boxing and ladies in MMA?! Smelling salts please!


  1. Some of this looks like my morning regimen, but I don't have the bloomers to match.

  2. Fantastic assembly of pictures! Love it.

  3. Thanks so much for the links back to my site. I'm glad you found my photos to be useful!