TO the healthy boy or girl, exercise is always attractive. It is also helpful and strengthening. The practice of gymnastics develops the muscles, tones the system, and yields toughened sinews in place of debilitating fat. The gymnasium is the means to this end; its simple or complicated appliances alike affording that opportunity for systematic development that modern gymnastics aims to secure.

But fresh air is the chief tonic. An out-of-door gymnasium, where such is possible, is then an even better means toward the acquiring of muscle and sinew, strength and health, than one in-doors.

Realizing this fact, the "powers that be" in the city of Boston instituted in the strip of park known as the Charlesbank, an open-air gymnasium, fitting it up with the appliances that give the best exercise - chest weights, pulleys, parallel bars, horizontal bars, climbing poles, vaulting poles, giant strides, jumping boxes, jumping standards and ropes, sand bags, quoits, dumb-bells, hurdles, swings, perpendicular and inclined ladders, rope and Jacob's ladders, flying rings, inclined and perpendicular poles, trapezes, breast bars, balance swings, etc.

This out-of-door "gym" is almost in the heart of the city. It occupies a space in the fine embankment along the Charles River near to the bridge that Longfellow made famous. It is free to the public; and a systematic attempt for practical instruction has been attempted with excellent results.

A class of boys was formed for the purpose of experimenting in these class drills under no roof but the sky. Having a large space that was not being occupied for anything in particular, a platform was built upon the ground, made from the plank walks used on the park during the winter. This platform was marked off in spaces, and was found to accommodate about forty in a class. None of the boys was over eighteen years of age; the youngest was fifteen years. All wore a costume consisting of a white shirt, amateur running pants, and rubber-soled shoes.

Every one of these boys worked all day at some light trade; so, to make it convenient, the class was called together at half-past six every alternate evening.

Drills lasted fifteen minutes, each drill beino-followed by class work in light athletic exercises. The drills were changed every night, so that the boys did not receive the same platform drill once in two weeks. Drills consisted of free movements, Indian clubs, dumb-bells, bar bells, sometimes followed by parallel bars, flying rings, and athletics in the primary exercises. As an experiment I feel sure it was a success. At the beginning it was impossible to have the boys go through these exercises without feeling conscious of the crowd of lookers-on outside, who amused themselves by making personal remarks on the different attitudes of the members of the class. This did not add to the esprit of the class, and at last the outside critics were requested to cease their remarks. They readily complied, and after a few days really took as much interest in the exercises as did the scholars themselves. Now, it must be understood that these boys had never attended a gymnasium, so that it was much harder for them to face a large crowd than it would be for boys who had been accustomed to doing their "gym" work in public.

After the novelty had worn off, it was found that the exercises could be made as attractive as are in-door gymnastics, and much more beneficial because of the purer air and the pleasant surroundings.

It is in the open air that one attains the very foundation for physical strength; and if this out-of-door exercise is but carried on systematically, it will prove of the utmost importance to growing bodies.

The field for out-door gymnastics is wide; people are beginning to see the value of parks and breathing places; and gymnasiums in these parks are of the greatest value, both physically and morally. The exercises that are carried on in-doors can be repeated out-doors when the same apparatus is at hand.

The Medicine Ball. (On Top of Head.)

The Medicine Ball. (On Top of Head.)

The German Government, through its school board, makes gymnastic work almost compulsory, and has it carried on out-of-doors. There are a number of out-of-door gymnasiums, and these are attended by all the school children. Each gymnasium is provided with a director-general of gymnastics. The gymnasiums are built about the same as the Charles-bank Gymnasium.

At the Charlesbank the giant stride is a popular piece of apparatus. This consists of a stout pole fixed in the ground, with a revolving plate on its head; hung from the plate are ropes, with handles attached to them; there are four, six, or eight ropes, and these are grasped separately, while each performer pushes on the ground with his feet until all attain sufficient momentum to swing around without touching the ground. For the children, instead of ropes, ribbons are used. As the children march around the pole the ribbons are plaited around it, making a very pretty sight when the ribbons are of different colors. By reversing the order of marching, the ribbons unwind from the pole. The heavier apparatus is very valuable as a strengthener of the grasp, and assists in the development of the chest and abdominal muscles.

The Medicine Ball. (On One Arm.)

The Medicine Ball. (On One Arm.)

All the special apparatus can be used out-doors. Of this, special mention may be made of the Neck Developer. It is a plain band of canvas with a cross piece over the ears, the whole being brought to a point in front of the forehead. Fastened to the canvas is a slip-hook, which can be attached to the handle of a chest weight. By standing and facing sideways (left and right), and back to the weight, the muscles of the neck can be exercised.

Another piece of apparatus is the Medicine Ball, the invention of Mr. Roberts, of the Boston Y. M. C. A. Gymnasium. This is a large, leather-covered ball weighing about ten pounds. The mode of exercising is to pass it from one to the other from different positions, with both hands, each hand separate - from over the head, between the legs, from the right and left side, and numerous other ways. When used as it should be, it is one of the best exercises known, both as a strengthener of the whole muscular system and a means of recreation.

Another popular exercise is the Spring Board. This apparatus is customarily used in connection with the Jumping Rope, or Buck. In the former the gymnasts run to the Spring Board, and leap over the rope at different heights. When this is done in connection with the Buck, in much the same manner as leap-frog, finishing with a roll over on the mat, the exercise it affords the legs is most admirable.

Another piece of apparatus not found in the in-door gymnasium is the Tilting Ladder. This appliance is a source of great enjoyment to those who use it, and is a very popular piece of apparatus. It is arranged so that it can be used as well by the small boys as by the men, for the pin through the centre can be drawn out and placed lower down on the posts supporting it. The sensation of flying through the air induces many to try it, for it is a fact that an apparatus that has any swing in connection with it is the most popular. The Tilting Ladder acts in a like manner with the Giant Stride, as far as developing the muscles is concerned.

The Tilting Ladder at the Charlesbank Gymnasium.

The Tilting Ladder at the Charlesbank Gymnasium.

The Jacob's Ladder, or, as the boys have termed it, the "Razzle Dazzle," is another piece of apparatus not frequently seen in a gymnasium. This ladder is hung from the framework by a swivel hook, and is not fastened in the ground, but is allowed to swing-loose. The rungs of the ladder are about eighteen inches apart, and fastened together by a chain or steel bar, through the centre of the rung. This arrangement allows the rungs to swing loose. The mode of exercising with this apparatus is to grasp a rung at the full reach, and lift the body from the ground to a rung opposite the waist line; then the legs are spread apart, and come to a sitting position on the rung. The hands grasp another rung, higher up the ladder, the legs are spread apart, and so one pulls himself to the top of the ladder. This is splendid exercise for the muscles of the hips and thighs, while the back and arms also come in for a great deal of exercise.

The Razzle Dazzle.

The "Razzle Dazzle."

The interest in out-door work is growing every year, as the attendance at the Charlesbank shows. When the gymnasium was first opened, it was looked upon as a place for fun; now it is esteemed as a place where the needs of the muscular system are attended to systematically.

The success of this Boston out-of-door gymna-sium should lead to the adoption of the system in other cities; while the fact that such appliances for open-air exercise are possible should suggest to inventive and wide-awake boys a means of furnishing fun and exercise, with a wide scope for their ingenuity and skill.


Athletic Manager Boston Athletic Association and Ex-Superintendent Charlesbank Gymnasium.