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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 19.djvu/27

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PHYSICAL EDUCATION.

mind. Having learned to rely on their personal strength and judgment under circumstances where shams are peculiarly unavailing, gymnasts will generally be men of self-help; practical, rather apt to believe in the competence of human reason and human virtue and to question the utility of a pious fraud.

On rainy days an in-door gymnasium is as useful as a private library. Where wood is cheap, the aggregate cost of the following apparatus need not exceed fifty dollars: 1. A spring-board and leaping-gauge; 2. An inclined ladder; 3. A horizontal bar; 4. Swinging-rings; 5. A vaulting-horse (rough hewed); 6. A chest-expander (elastic band with handles); and, 7. A pair of Indian clubs. Buckets filled with shot or pig-iron will do for a health-lift. With this simple apparatus an infinite variety of health-giving exercises may be performed without much risk; on the horizontal bar alone Jahn and Salzmann enumerate not less than one hundred and twenty different movements, most of which have proved very useful in correcting special malformations. For general hygienic purposes a much smaller number will be sufficient, especially where the neighborhood affords an opportunity for occasional out-door sports; for an in-door gymnasium is, after all, only a preparatory school, or at best a substitute for the palæstra of Nature—the woods, the seashore, and the cliffs of a rocky mountain-range. But in large cities even the poorest ought to procure a few gymnastic implements; no dyspeptic should be without a springboard and some sort of health-lift.

The victims of asthma would throw a considerable quantity of physic to the dogs if they knew the value of a mechanical specific—a few minutes' exercise with the balance-stick, an apparatus which any man can manufacture in half an hour, and at an expense representing the value of an old broom-stick and a yard of copper wire. Take a straight stick, about six feet long and one inch in diameter, and mark it from end to end with deep notches at regular intervals, say two inches apart, with smaller subdivisions, as on the beam of a lever-balance. Then get a ten-pound lump of pig-iron, or a large stone, and gird it with a piece of stout wire, so as to let one end of the wire project in the form of a hook. The exercise consists in grasping the stick at one end, stretching out arm and stick horizontally like a rapier at a home-thrust; then draw your arm back, still keeping the stick rigidly horizontal, make your hand touch your chin, thrust it out again, draw back, and so on, till the forearm moves rapidly on a steady fulcrum. Next load the stick—i. e., hook the stone to one of the notches; every inch farther out will increase the weight by several pounds. Hook it to one of the middle notches, and try to move your arm as before. It will be hard work now to keep the stick horizontal; even a strong man will find that the effort reacts powerfully on his lungs: he will puff as if the respiratory engine were working under high pressure. On the same principle, the lungs of a half-drowned man may be set awork by mov-