Indian Clubs Podcast


Hello, I'm Jeff Heitzman, one of the rangers here at Hot Springs National Park.

We're in the gymnasium on the third floor of the Fordyce. Now the Fordyce operated as a bathhouse from 1915 until 1962. The gymnasium here was a very popular spot for patrons of the Fordyce to come - either before or after their baths - to try to further their quest to get well by exercising.

Exercise was very popular during the Edwardian Era that we're speaking of and Indian Clubs like the two you see here were the rage really from the end of the Civil War until WWII. A lot of different routines were done. I'm going to demonstrate a few of those. Most of them are just a series of circles - small and large - but you always start from this position, and you can do forward circles - small - forward circles - large. Back to the start, and then you can do outside circles - small - outside circles - large. Okay, you can do back circles - large - and then just start combining them all together. And they actually had competitions. They called it "club swinging."

Now, most of the equipment here in the Fordyce is Spalding, and the two Indian Clubs I have here are Model BS 1lb. Spalding Indian clubs. And they often used heavier clubs - this is a 2lb. club - but the lighter clubs were more popular. And I'd like to show you; I have a reproduction of a ad from 1910 - it's a Spalding ad - and I don't know if you'll all be able to see the Spalding trademark here says Model BS 1lb. And on our ad here from 1910 it shows Spalding Model BS - those were the less expensive clubs - 1lb. costs 35¢ for a pair. That would have been about 5 years before this building opened in 1915.

Last updated: April 10, 2015

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