About a year ago (actually, as I look at the article, a year ago to the week) Slate ran an article on an exercise routine published in 1904 by J. P. Müller. Müller’s regiment promised that just "15 minutes a day" of prescribed exercise would transform "weaklings" into strong men.
Sounds like the kind of thing they used to print in the back of comic books back in the 50’s, huh? But this guy was Danish, and as everyone knows, Danes are awesome and never lie (not to mention they make fantastic furniture!). [Full disclosure: I am of Danish descent.]
The idea sounded great to me. Only fifteen minutes? Perfect! I wasn’t looking to turn into Lou Ferrigno, just wanted to be healthier, maybe cut a little bit so I could take off my shirt without looking around at my audience first.
But then I started leafing through the booklet, and just sifting through everything to find the actual EXERCISES seemed like more work than the whole physical aspect of the system. The point (in my mind at least), was that this would be some efficient exercises I could easily do in my office, without special equipment, to keep in shape. However, in order to figure out what the exercises were, you had to read a whole freaking book! Not very “easy.”
Thus, I gave up (the ultimate end to most geeks’ good intentions involving exercise, right?). [blush]
I did a little digging to see if I could find just a list of the exercises, but came up short. I posted as much in a forum somewhere, and someone just recently responded with a link to a list of only the exercises.
Hurray! Now we’ll see if I can actually peel my ass out of this Aeron chair and make my body move for fifteen minutes a day.
Point of note: evidently Franz Kafka used to do the regiment twice a day… naked… in his window for all passers by to see. Hmmm.
p.s. After looking over this again, I still think someone needs to go through and make this easier to understand, maybe that’ll have to be me. I’m pretty sure the exercising itself is super simple, but the way it’s explained seems much more complicated than it needs to be. Even just the last line of the Quick Reference: “Do exercises in numerical order from 1-18, moving each exercise into the next degree or level of complexity (or add the rubbing).” What the hell does this mean?! In the quick reference, each exercise has multiple numbers for different weeks. I guess these are the varying degrees of difficulty? At the very least, the pamphlet should come with a bottle of Ritalin.
Here’s a start. This is the list of the basic exercises (there seems to be lots of this “rubbing” nonsense). Also, the capitalization and hyphenation is all copied verbatim (and weird).
- Slow Trunk Circling
- Quick Leg Swinging
- Slow Trunk-Twisting with Sideways Bending
- Quick Arm Circling
- Slow Leg Circling
- Slow Trunk Twisting with “Forward” Leaning
- Rubbing of the Feet, Top of Back, and Round the Neck
- Rubbing of Arms and Round shoulders, with Full Knee-Bending
- Full Slow Forward and Backward Bending (with Rubbing)
- Slow Trunk-Bending Sideways with half Knee-Bending (with Rubbing)
- Slow Trunk-Twisting to Alternate Sides (with Rubbing)
- Slow raising of Stretched leg in three directions (with Rubbing)
- Knee-Raising (with Rubbing)
- Quick Sideways bending of Trunk (with Rubbing)
- Quick Trunk-twisting (with Rubbing)
- Quick Backward-Forward Leaning of Trunk (with Rubbing)