Are There Any New Exercises?
Are there any new exercises? was a question posed by George F Jowett in his World Body Sculpture magazine in the 1950s. His answer is worth publishing verbatim, because even 60+ years later what he said makes a lot of sense. A PDF of the entire mini-magazine is available HERE.
Are there any new exercises? By George F Jowett
THIS is a question that is frequently asked. So many, particularly the ambitious exercise fans, after a while spent in training, find exercise – doing the same thing all the time – becomes monotonous. They want a change. Others feel, and in many cases justly so, that the reason for failure in reaching the goal of physical perfection is because their particular routine of exercise is not properly adapted for them. Of course, we must not forget that many ambitious young people are too impatient. To them, let me say, there are no short cuts or detours to physical perfection. Physical perfection can only be reached by a thorough, progressive adherence to All the health principles, and the faithful practice of exercise.
It is hard to say whether there are any new exercises. To the new teacher of exercise no doubt there are, or to the instructor who has not had a wide range or many years’ experience in teaching. To the exercise fan, apparently there are numerous new exercises, but to the instructor who has put in a long lifetime of teaching there may appear to be nothing new. It all depends upon the form of exercise and training one is interested in. In some branches of training, I would say, there are no new exercises. In others, I would say, there are many splendid exercises that are forgotten. At the same time, I realize that as new apparatus is created there becomes a new treatise of exercise, and a new definition of the old. Yet, with the ever-broadening understanding of our physical mechanism and functions, new exercises will be originated. But to my mind, the thing the exerciser should know, and which is of the greatest importance, is to know how an exercise should be correctly performed.
Another important fact is, as we are learning more about the body and its functions, we find that many exercises, and forms of training believed to be great are, in fact, the reverse. We learn that only certain physical types can perform certain exercises, and some cannot practice them at all and others should not practice them. Yet, the condemnation of an exercise should never be a personal condemnation. What is not good for one may be good for the other.
Condemnation of an exercise must first be proven, checking up on the reactions a certain exercise has had upon a great number of people, over a length of time adequate to prove the reaction. Some instructors are too apt to shout, “I have found a new exercise. It has performed wonders for me.” That proves only the one thing – That it helped him. It proves nothing to average Mr. John Exerciser. Particularly it is wrong to accept an individual declaration if that particular instructor is a heavyweight. His body weight being much greater than that of the average man allows him to do certain physical things in safety, things that might ruin the average man. In fact, I think any instructor who makes this declaration only proves his ignorance of physical training. It is all right to give an example of what a routine has done for him, but it is another thing to force it upon the mass public. Therefore, what has been proven good for the most people is the only safe thing for the average person, unless, of course, where the exerciser comes under the personal supervision of an instructor who knows what to teach; according to type, age, and condition.
There are many instructors who prescribe the same thing, but try to make the public believe it is something different, when, on investigation, we find that each are giving more or less the same routine of exercises according to is the method or apparatus they prefer to instruct with. Consequently, in this case, it becomes primarily a selection of the teacher you prefer, more than for his particular secrets of training.
Knowledge is power This is only gotten by experience, and the true value of exercise is the ability of the teacher to interpret the exercises according to the physical requirements of the individual.
Of course. every teacher has his own I pet ideas. You cannot blame him for that. No doubt they all have merit. Not that I am setting myself up as the final authority. I am only explaining some facts which some instructors are too narrow or commercial to admit. I am trying to provide you with a reasonable answer to the question, “Are there any new exercises?”
As I have written earlier in this article, there are more forgotten exercises that as revived, might be classified as new. I also repeat, there are some new exercises, and there will be more as long as progressive learning continues, and new apparatus is created. There are many exercises previously thought good, which are not good; therefore each month I shall bring before you at least one or two exercises. They may be new – they may be forgotten exercises given a new lease of life – they may be exercises on which I believe that the exercise fan requires a fuller understanding. They may be exercises considered of real value, but are proven of no value, or even harmful. Whatever they may be, I shall explain thoroughly to you each month, under the same heading which this article now bears. As near as possible, I shall explain its value according to physical type. In the application of the exercise you will have to use your own judgment as to whether you belong to the particular type described.
It goes without. saying that all my readers will be a medley of physical types, but from every discussion all will learn the true understanding of exercise, according to how the exercise has to be adapted and practiced.
For the benefit of progressive understanding of exercise, I gladly welcome the co-operation of all my readers who are sufficiently interested in sending to me any particular exercise they prefer, or one they feel is a new version. or a new exercise. I shall welcome correspondence from those who find a certain exercise difficult, or no good in their particular case. The important part to remember when writing me is to give your age, body weight, measurements, length of time, in months or years, spent in exercise, occupation, and your particular experience upon the merits or demerits of the exercise. Only discus one exercise in one letter in order to avoid confusion upon the subject. No matter how much more experienced one man is over the other, he is not so smart that he knows it all. Only by cooperating intelligently can we be of service to each other, and further progression in the interest of scientific exercise.
Ever since I was a young boy I have collected every book I possibly could relative to exercise, health and physical training. This collection is in many languages. I am proud of it. I think it is the most complete accumulation of its kind. There are hundreds of exercises added to this collection, which are not in any of the books, and which I have never seen. Exercises that I created myself, but this does not mean that nobody else, somewhere in the world, does not know of them; yet the fact that many to my knowledge have never been published makes them valuable for the consideration of every exercise fan.
From this vast store of information I shall dig out exercises for this series. For this issue I have dug up an exercise that will be new to most of you, if not to all. It is one of the finest back exercises known. Not only is it valuable to the muscles of the back, but has considerable benefit for the spine. This being so, it is healthfully effective upon the nerves, stimulating their vibration. Such an exercise is bound to be valuable for everyone – man or woman.
The value of this exercise is that little weight resistance is necessary to provide good results. This means that the exerciser has a wider range to expand in, in both progressive repetition and weight resistance.
From shoulder to pelvis, the back muscles are brought vigorously into play, as the exerciser merges from the position of arms stretched overhead to the final position, where the upper body is at right angle with the lower body. Where the back muscles are all involved, particularly in the small of the back, which is known as the lumbar section, care should be taken to keep the back absolutely flat. A flat back prevent, kinks, or vertebral displacement.
By keeping the head up as the body descends, there will be less tendency to round the lower back. Stand with the feet wide apart and allow the hips to travel backward of the perpendicular line as the body descends. Breathe in as the movement is being made, and breathe out as you come back to the original position. Keep the arms in a line level with the shoulders as you approach the final position. Do not allow the arms to travel back of the level line, otherwise a great deal of the exercise value will be lost. There will be a tendency to do this, but you must resist. Keep the legs straight and head up and you will find that the muscles of the entire back will work wonderfully.
The great value of an exercise like this is, that it combines all the back muscular movements in one exercise. It can take the place of several exercises, saving time and energy, and giving you the desired results. Start out with a very light pair of dumb-bells You may be surprised to find how little weight can only be used in this exercise. This insures you against any possible muscular strain or internal depression.
As long as you breathe as advised the whole system will work harmoniously as the muscles are developed. Any exercise that causes internal depression is to be avoided. For body building purposes only, the exercise that permits the use of light weights, and yet can give the muscles a vigorous workout and keep the internal system, particularly the blood stream, free of depression, will do the most good in every case.
Some exercises permit the use of considerably more weight, and easily, but it all depends upon the position and the muscles involved. Since all power comes from within, we must consider the free, natural stimulation of the internal systems in connection with an exercise. From these sources, the muscles receive their fuel and nourishment and to impede these sources, as happens when struggling with too much weight, is to retard your healthful, and muscular benefits. Practice the exercise twelve times to start with, and increase by one movement every second exercise practice, until twenty-four movements are reached, then gradually increase the weight of your resistance, and start over with twelve counts, working up as before.
Jowett World Body Sculpture Club Magazine
George F Jowett World Body Sculpture Magazine is not something you can use as a manual to get strong, but it is certainly something that will inspire you! This 18 page PDF reproduction of one of the few remaining World Body Sculpture magazines is both a bit of fun and offers tremendous insight into a time when becoming healthy, strong, and ‘husky’ was desirable!
So, what did you think of that? Did it read like something like written 50-odd years ago with no 21st century relevance? Or (if you think like me) did it make COMPLETE sense??