The World’s First Gyms Were Sweaty and Strange

When fitness first became fashionable you had to get your sweat-on while strapped to extremely strange contraptions. Workout, or torture?
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Society’s preoccupation with exercise and the perfect body may have newer origins, but it is rooted in hundreds of years of creation. Swedish physician Gustav Zander, born in Stockholm in 1835, was a diminutive child who grew up wishing he was bigger and stronger. While attending medical school in the 1860s, he began constructing machinery featuring elaborate pulley systems attached to springs and weights designed to strengthen the human body through resistance.

In the process, Dr. Zander created the first primitive workout tools designed specifically to improve the human body, proving his theory that muscle mass could be achieved through muscles and joints having to work against the force of another object. Dr. Zander is therefore known as one of the creators of mechanotherapy, a means of stimulating tissue and miscle repair.