Get in shape for the summer – the 1926 railway way

As part of “getting to know the collections”, staff in Search Engine (the National Railway Museum’s library and archive centre) come up with a Fact of the Day that they then circulate to the rest of the team. These can be about anything to do with the collections or railways – and the staff have unearthed some weird and wonderful “facts”.

This one is from Mary, one of our Visitor Services Assistants, and I thought I’d share it with you – now that the summer hols have arrived, many of you may just take heed and decide getting in shape the “railway way” is the route for you.

GW Whatton’s physical culture exercises (as featured in the GER & LNER staff magazines c. 1926. ) promise to “produce harmonious development of the body and good health… promoting the capacity of endurance and resistance of disease, combined with the manly qualities of strength, activity and presence of mind.”

Before undertaking this regime, please heed Whatton’s health disclaimer!

“In every exercise care must be taken to allow full and free breathing, not only for beneficial effects of this upon the chest, but also because the muscles while at work require much more oxygen and give up far more waste matter than when at rest. The oxygen is taken in and the waste matter forced out through the lungs; therefore, unless the breathing abundantly supplies the one and quickly exterminates the other, over-straining and injury to the heart may result, consequent upon deficient cleansing of the blood.”

So start bending, lifting and rotating and I’ll see you on the beach!

Illustrated with photographs taken in the York Gymnasium. Sergt. Major Neill is the handsome model in the photos

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