Tag: Interesting

Nautilus Machines and the Growth of the Gym Industry: An Interview with Thomas Todd

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Earlier this week I had the pleasure of chatting to Thomas Todd, a lifelong fitness fanatic with several decades experience in the health and fitness industry. Todd very kindly got in touch having read a recent Barbend article of mine on Arthur Jones of Nautilus fame. Readers of this website will recall Jones’ controversial nature, his incredible marketing ability and his, at times, outlandish claims of progress, most notably seen in his infamous ‘Colorado Experiment.’ Much to my delight, Todd had worked in a Nautilus facility in the mid-1970s, at the precise moment when the fitness community was truly engaging with Jones’ equipment and was willing to chat about his experiences.

Over the course of our conversation, Todd detailed his experiences in the Nautilus community, highlighting their popularity and uniqueness. Furthermore, he was able to give some lived insights into the changing landscape of the American fitness industry more generally.

The History of Kaatsu Training

“Wrap a band around your bicep until it begins to go numb, then pump out 30 reps with a light weight… Trust me, the pump is worth it.”

These are not the words of an enlightened man but rather my first experience of Kaatsu or Blood Restriction Training. Brought to my attention by a training partner whose grasp of science is not always the strongest, Kaatsu training has grown in popularity over the last decade. While my friend’s description may seem appropriate at first glance, there is quite a lot more to this training system than first meets the eye.

With this in mind today’s post seeks to answer three simple questions: what is Kaatsu training? How was it created? And, perhaps most importantly, should you try it?

Guest Post: How Has the Olympics Changed Over Time?

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The first Olympics, inspired by the Olympian Gods, was held in Greece in 776 BC. Centuries on, the game has been carried from country to country, through a range of wars, political developments, boycotts and above all, great human achievements.

120 years since the first modern Olympics took place in Athens in 1896, it makes you wonder how the games, including rules and requirements, have changed ever since.

How Indian Clubs Came to England

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Originating in modern-day India, the practice of club swinging has a long and deeply embedded cultural Indian history. In the first instance, the Indian clubs featured heavily in the Mahabharata, a Hindu religious epic written during the Indian Vedic Age (1500 – 500 BCE). Highly allegorical, the epic focused on two warring sects, the Pandevas and Kauravas, with their fierce battle a metaphor for life itself (Dasgupta, 2004, 411-420). While several figures used gadas (Indian club precursors) throughout the religious epic, it was the final gadabattle between Bhima, the king and Duryodhan, the man vying for Bhima’s throne, which became synonymous with the Indian clubs’ importance (Roy, 2012, 21-23). That each man, famed for his power and force wielded gadas linked the clubs to overt images of strength, masculinity and military prowess. Similarly, that Bhima killed Duryodhan with his club demonstrated its very real destructive capabilities (Ibid.).

Tom Burrows and the 100 Hour Indian Club Swing

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Readers of this blog will undoubtedly be familiar with my fondness for Indian club swinging, that great Hindu and Persian practice which became all the rage in England and the United States during the nineteenth and early twentieth century. The history of Indian club swinging has been previously covered here with one big exception. I have said little to nothing of my favorite Indian club athlete, the great Tom Burrows.

Burrows was an Australian athlete who came to Britain in the late nineteenth century to train soldiers at the Royal Army Physical Training Corps gymnasium in Aldershot. Once there, Burrows became a minor physical culture celebrity owing both to his expertise as a coach but, more importantly, his ability to swing Indian clubs for hours on end. This is no exaggeration. By the late 1900s, Tom Burrows could swing Indian clubs for eighty hours without resting. Such was his popularity and demand that he even went on a world tour during this time to showcase his abilities to foreign audiences.

Today’s post, which is based on an article I wrote for Sport in History, centers on Burrow’s ultimately failed efforts to swing the Indian clubs for 100 hours without rest. Interested? Read on.

Guest Post: Injuries That Almost Changed Sports History

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Every athlete’s worst nightmare is not whether they’ll miss out on a trophy or whether they could have signed a more lucrative deal or played for another team. There is one thing they all dread more than anything and that’s an injury that could seriously affect their career. While every athlete experiences at least one injury during their career, some of those affecting some of the world’s greatest athletes could have completely changed the course of sports history. Here are just four of the most famous injuries that could have had major impacts.

Guest Post: From Kings to Kicks – The Evolution of Football Shoes

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Take a moment to envision the famous figure of King Henry VIII known for his six marriages and numerous unorthodox decisions (pardon the pun), wearing the very first custom-made pair of soccer shoes. In 1526, the very same year the Tudor ruler started courting his soon-to-be second wife Anne Boleyn although already married to Catherine, he also made another historic decision – to have his soccer shoes made.

The game of football as we know it today does stem from England, and the king’s single capricious demand may have very well been the catalyst for the footwear we use today. The game itself, however, is over 3,000 years in the making, dating back to the old Mesoamerican cultures, so it took us a substantial amount of time to get to the level of superior engineering that today’s football players enjoy. Here’s a brief, but thorough glance at how this quite literally game-changing footwear has come into existence.

Guest Post: A Brief History Lesson: Trophies and Awards

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Today, awards and trophies are a huge business. No matter if they are being lifted above winners’ heads after a grueling sporting match or if they are being handed to actors and singers at gala events, they have a clear purpose to award achievement. Each trophy tells you that the person holding it is a champion—they are the best of the best. They leave such a big statement that people of all ages from all sorts of organizations and branches get awarded trophies for their success. Since we live in a material world, most of us have a weird fascination with everything sparkly and glitzy, but trophies go beyond our love for glitter and gold. Want to know more? Here’s a brief history of trophies and awards.

Guest Post: History of Recreational Sports

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The recreational sport field has existed for quite some time now. Now we see it as a subset of both the recreation and leisure and the sport management industries. Those working in this field are tasked with providing sport opportunities to the widest range of participants. The idea behind recreational sport is that sport should be available to everyone and that all of us should engage in active, participatory sport experiences for many reasons. However, in order for us to be able to enjoy all the benefits now, recreational sport has had to develop and it continues to do so even today. So, why don’t we take a look back at the history of this noble and healthy idea?

Guest Post: How Tennis Developed over the Years

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One of the most popular sports nowadays, enjoyed by tens of millions of people, tennis has had a very interesting history. Like most other sports, it has seen many changes, some of which crucial to its development and popularity. So, let’s take a look back at how this great sport has developed to become one of the most attractive and popular sports in the world.

It’s actually very old

Believe it or not, tennis is the direct descendant of jeu de paume, invented in France in the 11th century. This game was played with bare hands for centuries before rackets were introduced in the 16th century, along with the special scoring system that remains a great to puzzle to many (15, 30, 40, game). It was in the late 19th century, i.e. in 1870, that tennis was designed and codified in England. The name came from the French word “tenez!” (loosely translated as “here it comes!”), which a player was supposed to say to their opponent as they were about to serve.