• Creator
  • Chiosso, James, 1789-1864
  • Created Date
  • 1860
  • Publisher
  • London: Walton & Maberly
    New York: H. Balliére
  • Description
  • Captain James Chiosso wrote “The gymnastic polymachinon : instructions for performing a systematic series of exercises on the gymnastic & calisthenic polymachinon,” which contains instructions for “a systematic series of exercises on the gymnastic and callisthenic polymachinon.” The exercises include curling movements, squats, chest work, leg extensions, and many other resistance exercises still used today. Carolyn Thomas de le Pena describes ... more
    Captain James Chiosso wrote “The gymnastic polymachinon : instructions for performing a systematic series of exercises on the gymnastic & calisthenic polymachinon,” which contains instructions for “a systematic series of exercises on the gymnastic and callisthenic polymachinon.” The exercises include curling movements, squats, chest work, leg extensions, and many other resistance exercises still used today. Carolyn Thomas de le Pena describes the book “as part catalogue, part instruction guide, and part philosophy lesson.” Chiosso worked as a gymnastics professor at the University College School in London. He built his first weightlifting device sometime between 1829 and 1831. Over the next several decades he refined the machine, enclosing the weights and pulleys and designing interior compartments for the smoother movement of weights. According to Carolyn Thomas de la Pena in “The Body Electric: How Strange Machines Built the Modern American”: “Long an advocate of traditional gymnastics, Chiosso had been searching for a way to bring healthful exercise to individuals who were intimidated by organized fitness or who were without access to public facilities. He believed the solution lay in bringing a gymnastics routine to people who would not come to it. Yet he found nothing available to replicate the graduated, controlled motions of calisthenics for the lone home practitioner.” The Polymachinon was his answer. According to Jan Todd’s “Physical Culture and the Body Beautiful”: “Chiosso’s versatile Polymachinon allowed both sexes to work their entire body using resistance exercise. Chiosso considered his machine ‘elegant and ornamental’ and suitable for prominent display in the dining room, library, or boudoir of anyone’s home. To check their progress, and to see how they compared to their neighbors, people could try the strength testing machines that appeared on many street corners and at fairs. These machines allowed a person to test his ‘main strength’—meaning the strength of his back, hips, legs, and hands—by moving a large weight a short distance. Chiosso claims to have made the first version of the polymachinon in 1829. Universal machines were sold in the 1850s, but lacked the promotional effort put out by Chiosso. In one regard, Chiosso’s machine would remain distinct from those that followed. One of its selling points, Chiosso believed, was group fitness. It could be used by one person at a time, or ‘by a number of persons not exceeding ten, acting totally independently of one another.’”. less
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