The History of Fitness Equipment


Even in the prehistoric era, men had already been maintaining their strength and agility on a regular basis by engaging themselves in hunting. But as centuries passed, people’s lifestyles changed and many of them became less active. Sedentary habits led to obesity and health complications arising from it.

Because of this, an interest in fitness came to light as a way not only to fight off obesity but also to prolong their lives. These fitness tools play a key part in keeping people’s bodies trim and promoting an overall healthy lifestyle. There are even compact ellipticals available if you have limited space at home. We list some of the fitness equipment that is still widely used today.


The first treadmill developed as a piece of exercise equipment was invented by a mechanical engineer named William Staub in the late 1960s. He came up with the idea after reading a book written by Dr. Kenneth Cooper on aerobics which said that running a mile in eight minutes four or five times a week would result in better fitness. Treadmills were only used by doctors and Staub wanted to develop these machines that would be commercially available. He called his first prototype the PaceMaster 600. When his products became a hit with customers, he then began to manufacture treadmills for fitness gyms and for home use. Since then treadmills have become one of the most ubiquitous fitness equipment widely used by a lot of fitness buffs.

Unlike treadmills, elliptical trainer’s comfort depends a lot on finding the ideal stride length for the user’s height


Rowing Machines


Rowing Machines

Rowing machines are row-the-boat simulators. The first rowing machines appeared in the mid-19th century. A US patent of the flywheel and ratchet rowing machine was granted to William B. Curtis in 1871. Then by the early to mid-20th century, hydraulic designed rowers had been designed and manufactured by the Narragansett Machine Company in Rhode Island.

Today many of the rowing machines are of motion type (with foot stretcher and handle) and damper type (with hydraulic cylinders) and are widely used indoors. Aside from the fitness lovers who use it, rowing communities also utilize these machines for extensive training of the water.


Weight lifting Equipment

Weight training is one of the oldest fitness disciplines. There are different theories on where weight lifting started, but the most common origin appears to be in ancient Greece. We all know that the ancient Greeks created the Olympic games, and weight and resistance training was one of the popular sports.

For these sports, the precursor of the dumbbell was halteres which are free weights that are made of either stone or metal. Halteres were also used in various athletic events in ancient Greece.

Today, there are two types of weight lifting equipment: free weights and weight machines.

Barbells are standard equipment in today’s gyms and health clubs. Although no one can say for certain who is the exact inventor of the barbell, barbells with spherical weights first appeared in the mid 19th century at a large gym in France owned by Hippolyte Triat. Athletes had been equipped with wooden bars for training, but it is said that Triat added these globe-like weights to these bars for added weight and resistance.

Changes over time have developed the look and structure of the barbells. Instead of the orbicular weights, barbells are now equipped with adjustable disc weights or plates, and their heaviness is coded by the color of the plates. Many are used for bench presses, and there are some shorter and lighter varieties used for general fitness exercises and training. Weightlifting competitions are held in many parts of the world and are both men and women compete classified by their weight and height.

Dumbells are small versions of barbells and can be used either one for each hand or in pairs. As mentioned, halteres from ancient Greece were the forerunners of the dumbbell.

The word “dumbbell” was coined in England, believed to have come from a contraption made of a rod attached between two church bells whose clappers were removed, thus not making a sound. That’s why they became silent, or “dumb”

In the 20th century, bodybuilding was becoming more popular, and women were also starting to take up this sport. You may not have heard of the name Arthur Jones he revolutionized the sport. Jones developed machines that would replace the free weights. He also wanted non-body builders to be able to train their muscles without using the cumbersome, intimidating barbells. Barbells would also pose an injury risk to ordinary people who didn’t have the body like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s.

And so Jones came up with machines that would hit the fitness market in the 1970s. These now-famous Nautilus machines would enable people to lift the weights easily and safely, which were also especially suitable for a woman who was starting out in resistance and bodybuilding training. When his machines became a best seller, the Nautilus empire started to explode. Jones became very wealthy from his inventions.

Many of the of the fitness machines like treadmills and rowers are now equipped with digitally-enhanced features that let you track and analyze your progress in real-time. From the rudimentary tools in the ancient era to the high-tech and innovative equipment today, the world of physical fitness has been revolutionized over the centuries.



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