16th Century exercises in a modern environment

16th Century exercises in a modern environment

Hi, I’m Dr. Joan Fitzpatrick. I’m the
senior lecturer in English here at Loughborough University and today we’re
at the Holywell Fitness Centre to show you some sixteenth-century exercises
from Thomas Elyot’s Castle of Health. The first exercise was delving especially in
tough or heavy clay soil and by delving he meant digging. Other exercises include
bearing or sustaining of heavy burdens. In essence carrying something heavy,
climbing or walking against a steep upright hill, holding a rope and climbing
up there by, hanging by the hands when anything above a man’s reach that his
feet touch not the ground. Another strong or violent exercise was
wrestling and this was suitable for strong young men or men apt to the wars
and wrestling was most violent as an exercise for the weaker of the two men. And the first exercise recommended for
these types of characters would be running, playing with weapons, tennis or
throwing of the ball, trotting a space of ground forward and backward, going on the
toes and holding up the hands and finally he recommends stirring up and
down his arms without plummets which means simply moving the arms up and down
without using weights Exercises in this category include
dancing of the galliards. This was a very energetic and rather tricky
sixteenth century dance and it contained a rather risque move which involved the
gentleman holding the lady and lifting her up and resting her thigh or
perhaps her bottom on his thigh but it took a lot of effort to perfect this
dance. The next exercise was throwing of the ball and running after it, football
play, throwing of the long dart and the continuing it many times. A long dart is
similar to a spear or javelin. Running in harness and other like which involves
wearing a resistance harness that’s held by the partner and trying to pull
against it, much the same manner as a dog might pull on a leash. These exercises included going on a long
walk or going on a tourney and tourney was combat exercises on
horseback. These exercises would be suitable for any personality type
especially those who couldn’t quite manage the more strenuous exercises. So for the legs, arms and shoulders he
recommended stretches and the use of weights as well as playing with weapons
such as spears or pikes. He also advised on exercises for the chest and lung and
these included moving of the breath in singing or crying and loud reading all
of which result to expel excess humours. Another exercise was for the intestines
and this included blowing into instruments which do require much wind
such as the sackbut, an early form of trombone. I’m no athlete or personal
trainer but I can see that these exercises would be relevant to an
athlete today. Some might not be, such as combat exercises on horseback. So this new year after all that Christmas excess you might decide that
you would quite like to get fit and you might opt for some sixteenth century
exercises. Perhaps delving in some heavy clay, doing a bit of gardening or
you might even decide to take up wrestling.

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