James Chiosso’s Polymachinon

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Invented in the late 1820s and publicised for several more decades, the Polymachinon represents one of the nineteenth century’s more interesting fitness devices. Created by the Professor of Gymnastics at University College School, London, the Polymachinon was seen as an effective method of improving strength, musculature and, more importantly, overall health. This much is made clear in the author’s 1855 work on the topic.

In a former Treatise* I considered Gymnastics as an essential branch of popular education, and an invaluable remedial agent in many forms of chronic disease ; and the favourable reception of that work by the press and public, together with the daily extending interest manifested in this important subject, have induced the publication of this little manual.

For while the Author views with pleasure the advance of physical education, he is aware that many, who would willingly adopt exercise as a hygienic or curative medium, either have not access to gymnasiums, or are deterred through ignorance of the movements they should adopt, as well as from fear of the evils resulting from indiscriminate and violent exertion ; and for such, the following series of scientifically arranged exercises will be found admirably suited, as the Polymachinon combines perfect safety, with all the essential elements of the most elaborate gymnasium.

For modern gym goers, the device most resembles the cable crossover machine often associated with Jack LaLanne. For readers of the website, it serves as one more example that there truly is nothing new under the sun!