Hello, I'm Jeff Heitzman. I'm one of the park rangers here at Hot Springs National Park.
We're in the fabulous gymnasium on the third floor of the Fordyce. The Fordyce operated as a bathhouse here from 1915 until 1962. It's now been restored as the National Park Visitor Center and Museum. We're lucky to have this wonderful building and, of course, this wonderful room that contains much of the original equipment that was in the bathhouse when it opened in 1915.
I'm holding a Spalding callisthenic rod - there also were school rods which were about a foot shorter - but these, of course, were for adults. We have a rack of them over here on the wall, and I'm going to demonstrate how they would have exercised with something as simple as this back in 1915 when this bathhouse opened.
It was believed that if you would exercise while you were also doing the baths, you could get well just that much quicker. With the industrial revolution, more folks had jobs that were sedentary in nature than ever before. More and more people were leaving the farms, and they did realize during this period - the Edwardian Age - that they needed exercise. So apparatus like this was very popular.