Stock photos can give us a historic perspective and act as a gauge of progress. Sometimes, you can see it in the periphery of an image. A clunky-looking cell phone, a feathered 80′s haircut, extremely high-waisted pants. These subtle details within the image are easily found, but aren’t necessarily the intent of the image. But other times, the historic intent of the image is shoved into your face. These images act as a visual gauge of progress.
This concept is better practiced then explained, so let’s get right to it. Let’s explore some vintage “fitness” images that are explicitly acting as a moment in time, existing as an easily referenced landmark in the development of exercise equipment. Some of these ideas stuck and evolved. Others broke, poked people in the eye, and were abandoned.
Exhibit A (left). While providing a resistance to stretch against is not a horrible theory, the use of springs that are aimed at your face is certainly not a good idea. Using one’s neck as a point of resistance also seems like an ill-conceived notion. These should have come with a coupon for half off on eye patches and chiropractor visits. It should be noted that working out in high heels also did not catch on.
Exhibit B (right). This looks to be highly unstable and a face-plant just waiting to happen. But it’s not hard to imagine how this may have evolved into some kind of useful squat/rowing-type machine. It’s not entirely clear how one would climb into this thing though.
Exhibit C. We’re not even really sure what this is, but it seems like it might be illegal or, at least, not very advisable. Our best guess is that this was meant to simulate horseback riding, which was probably considered more of an exercise back in the 1920′s. Regardless, it seems more like a tailbone abuser than anything else.