Throwback Thursday Fitness: The Pangymnastikon?

Ah, the good old days, when exercise was extremely relaxing. These good old days happened to be back in 1862, when the Pangymnastikon was in swing. Unless you were living back in 1862 and have first-hand experience, we recommend that you do not try this at home (or anywhere else, for that matter).

Here is a description of the Pangymnastikon, taken from The New Gymnatics for Men, Women, and Children by Dio Lewis. “Two large hand rings suspended from the ceiling by ropes, which, running through padded hooks, are carried to the walls. Two other ropes extend from the walls directly to the hand rings. A strap with a stirrup is placed in either hand ring. By a simple arrangement on the wall, the hand-rings are drawn as high as the performer can reach, or let down within a foot of the floor.”

There were gyms back in 1862, but (of course), the Pangymnastikon “cannot be put up in an ordinary gymnasium; the ceiling is too high.” So, where would you use it? It’s pretty obvious, right? The recommended place to use the Pangymnastikon: a ship, “where invigorating exercises are greatly needed to prevent sea sickness.” Because, logically you want to be dangling from hand rings while the ship roles back and forth.


“Upon close examination of the Pangymastic exercises, the conviction will be forced upon all, that by no other means can such a variety of valuable exercises be reached.”



On the second or third day of your ocean voyage, after you’ve had plenty of time to work on dangling there, you’re ready to move on to a more advanced exercise. They call this exercise the Elbow Swing.

Pangymnastikon_Elbow Swing


When one is truly advanced on the Pangymnastikon they can try the One Arm Hand Swing. Please make sure you’ve got one hand on your hip at all times.



And what if the rope breaks? No worries. You can use the rings to exercise with a friend.


two rings


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