Check Out the Strange Machines Women Used to Lose Weight in the '30s & '40s

In Depth

You know what would be awesome? If you could exercise without having to exercise. If just stepping into a machine for twenty minutes and letting it beat you up for a while not only raised your blood pressure but made your calves more muscular (like a Viking’s!). Unfortunately, those machines don’t exist. But they used to. Kind of?

We recently featured a terrifying pair of electrified gloves with which you could zap your way to slimness. (Supposedly.) And now Boing Boing has unearthed a rare glimpse into the world of futuristic exercise machines, circa the 1940s. It turns out that at least some women (probably those with a lot of money because that much metal is going to be expensive) actually used them. But the fact that they’re not around anymore suggests they were probably less effective than a walk in the park or a jog on the treadmill. Or maybe it’s the marketing that killed it—comparing a woman’s body to World War II is probably not the best way to sell equipment.

Machines such as this weren’t first invented in the ‘40s. Here’s a clip of women joyfully (JOYFULLY!) exercising in the ‘30s, with original sound:

You know what still works to get the blood rushing, though? Aerobics. Here are some excellent exercises from 1931 that you can practice in your own home (“What a time to be alive,” I think as I beam the video to my Apple TV to do them). No fancy machinery required. Just a love for health and thick French accents.

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