Dr. Gustav Zander's institute in Stockholm, founded in 1865, could be called the world’s first gym. It was equipped with twenty-seven custom built machines that Zander’s patients exercised on. Zander claimed that his therapeutic machines could correct a range of physical deficiencies, impairments and ailments brought about by accidents of birth or by hard labor. A follower of the movement cure promoted by an earlier pioneer of exercise Per Henrik Ling, Zander argued that the key to health was not strenuous acrobatics but “progressive exertion”—the controlled, systematic engagement of the body’s muscles in order to build strength.
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