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CALISTHENICS FOR LADIES. - I.
THE word "calisthenics" is derived from the Greek, "kalos," beautiful; and "sthenos," strength; the object of calisthenic exercises being to secure physical beauty by developing the limbs and muscles of the human frame, and making the joints flexible, thereby giving strength and
power, and ensuring a graceful carriage, erect bearing, and freedom to the
In the olden time the Greeks set this physical education before the mental; and within the past few years we have begun more particularly to recognise the importance, with regard to women, of such training as shall confirm their health and perfect their beauty; for, as Ruskin tells us, "The highest refinement of that beauty is unattainable without splendour of activity and delicate strength."
Helplessness and inactivity are no longer looked upon as feminine virtues. Lack of exertion leads to irregular muscular action, which, if well directed and regular, invigorates the system. Exercise is now recognised to be as great a necessity in woman's education as in man's we are learning that many bodily defects and much of her weak health is attributable to the want of it; more especially in youth, when the frame is growing. Nine women out of twenty have one shoulder larger than the other, many pursuits, such as reading, writing, and drawing, tending towards this; and physical exercise is absolutely necessary to counteract such tendencies, curing as it does many deformities of mind and person, rendering the soft, flexible tissues firm and strong, and making weak, delicate constitutions robust. The advantage of calisthenics to a narrow-chested girl is untold, for bodily-organs unpractised naturally become weak, and general weakness of the whole system follows.
Such exercises must, however, be carried out under a system; irregularly conducted, they do more harm than good. The constitution must be coaxed, not strained; [-26-] the strength not unduly taxed, no over-fatigue ensuing; for exhaustion makes people look worn and old. The exertion must not be too violent, and the health and physical development of each pupil must be specially studied.
Early morning or evening are the best times to select, but on no account immediately after a meal. The clothing should not be too warm, nor interfere in any way with the action of the limbs.
It is a very usual plan in America and France, where the subject has been carefully studied, to wear a special costume, consisting of a loose blouse, with a sash at the waist, and Turkish trousers; or in place of the blouse, a Garibaldi bodice and skirt; dark blue serge with white or scarlet braid, or unglazed holland with the same sort of trimming, are most in favour, being both strong and light. Grey and red is another favourite mixture. The boots should be an easy fit, with low heels. Our illustration (Fig. 1) will show that such a dress, while ensuring perfect ease and liberty of action to the wearer, is by no means unbecoming.
Ample space will be required, and good ventilation; a temperature of from 63º to 70º, with an abundant supply of fresh air. The teacher should be careful to give his directions in a clear, distinct voice, and to have the several exercises carried out with military precision. A musical accompaniment will best preserve the necessary rhythmus - the time, four or eight beats to a bar; failing this, the pupils should be taught to sing or count in concert, thereby keeping up their interest and zest. A castanet will, failing better means, help to mark the time with or without music.
The class should be ranged in lines, side by side, according to height, and sufficiently far apart for the several evolutions to be carried out without hindrance, each being repeated, so that every successive point is well learnt before proceeding to the next.
As soon as children begin to study, their physical education should commence. The mind and body act on each other; there is more actual sympathy than we perhaps ever realise. A child whose restless activity, when left to run about at will in the easy freedom of childhood, has exerted every muscle unconsciously, suffers from a reaction when education is begun, and the necessary mental strain, however slight, becomes a part of its daily life; a counteracting influence should be brought to bear without delay, and calisthenics should be commenced by early stages, taking care, above all things, to avoid excessive fatigue.
Calisthenics and gymnastics must not be confounded. We have not as yet quite made up our minds in England whether the latter are an altogether desirable part of a woman's training. In America they are a recognised portion of the education, and gymnastic classes have been most successful. With us, it remains an open question whether the violent exertions entailed by gymnastics are really suited to or safe for women, to whom any undue strain is attended with so much danger. But as gymnastics cause a gradual increase in the strength and aptitude of every part of the human frame, so also calisthenics affect to bring about the same development of limbs and muscles, the same acquisition of health and vigour, by gentle means, imparting at the same time a grace not to be acquired in the gymnasium.
A very excellent course of calisthenics may be undertaken without any paraphernalia at all, full directions for which, accompanied by illustrations, we will give in our next chapter.
But we will now proceed to enumerate the various articles which have, from time to time, been, used in the pursuit of such exercises.
First and foremost, the chest-expander (Figs. 2 and 3), invented some thirty years or more ago; this consists of an elastic band covered with ribbon, and attached to handles; the expander is made of various sizes, and of different degrees of strength. It is intended to develop the action of the chest and lungs, to "open the chest," in fact, and to invigorate the system generally. Of late it's use has been much extended, Cost's spine-director, as it is called (Fig. 4), being nothing more nor less than these chest-expanders in pairs, attached by a leather strap to the wall of the room, with or without horizontal bars between. The pupil goes through the exercises in two different positions-facing the wall, or with his back to the wall, thus calling all the muscles into play at all points.
Our illustrations give two kinds of backboards; the one (Fig. 5) intended to be fastened behind the shoulders and waist with straps, the other (Fig. 6) varying in size according to the requirements of the pupil, the flat part reaching across the shoulders, the handles to be held in the hands, while a series of evolutions are gone through. These backboards are, however, going out of fashion in favour of Cost's exercising-plane, a reclining board, which can be regulated as to height ; it is fitted with a movable cushion, the chest-expanders are attached by hooks and the exercises are gone through in a reclining position, thus relieving the spine from any weight and strain and proving an efficient cure to any weakness or curvature of the spine.
Dumb-bells-perhaps one of the oldest of the calisthenic apparatus, dating back as far as the Romans are now mostly used of quite light weight for ladies, the weighted Ones, at most, not exceeding two pounds. By an ingenious contrivance they are sometimes made to open, as shown in the illustration (Fig. 7), and they can be made heavier when required.
The bar-bell, which is of more recent date, consists of a two-handed dumb-bell, about three or four feet in length; but though they are used by many calisthenic teachers, bar-bells more correctly appertain to the gymnasium, as do the horizontal bar, parallel bars, weight machine, balancing pole, &c.
Wands, rods, or poles, made of a light smooth wood, that will not bend, and varying in length according to the height of the user, with which they should exactly correspond, will be found useful in a series of exercises for the shoulders.
Clubs (Fig. 8), often made hollow, so that by means of a movable top they can be weighted when desired, and to any required extent, are used in pairs in a similar series of practice to the Indian sceptres, which are somewhat more ornamental.
Lastly, we have the triangle (Fig. 9), formed of a bar of wood and two cords. This, attached to a pulley, can be raised and lowered at will, according to the height of the pupil, so that it may reach to about the knees when it is used.
And now, having described our list of apparatus, let us turn to the more practical part of our subject.
The first difficulty to be mastered is to learn to stand properly, and for this the pupil will carry out the following words of command:-
Attention-at this the heels must be placed in a line close together.
Feel outwards-the toes turned out, forming almost, if not quite, a right angle.
Knees joined-viz., straight together.
Body erect-well to the front, inclining a little forward that the weight may rest principally on the fore part of the foot.
Shoulders back-and square, and equal; the shoulder blades flat, so that the ear, knee, and ankle are all in a line.
Arms down-hanging close to the body, the elbows quite in, but not bent towards the side.
[-27-] Hands out-and resting lightly on the dress, the palms turned a little to the front, the thumb stretched out beside the forefinger.
Head up-the whole figure erect and square, stretched to its full length, the back of the head slightly raised, the waist and chin drawn in, the bust advanced, the spine straight.
Eyes front-looking straight at some object about twenty feet forward.
Mouth Shut - breathing through the nose.
We will in our next chapter proceed to give a course of free exercises adapted to the training and development of the different parts of the body, and so called because no apparatus of any kind is required; all of them may, therefore, by means of the accompanying illustrations, be easily carried out by the reader.
CALISTHENICS FOR LADIES.-II.
As promised in our last paper on this subject, we now proceed to give a course of exercises for which no apparatus of any kind is required.
To begin with exercises for the chest. These are
calculated to increase the action of the lungs, for the muscles of the
shoulders and chest serve a double purpose- aiding respiration, distending and
contracting the coats of the chest, and also being utilised for the movements of
1. Place the fists together so that the knuckles meet on the chest, the back of the hand outwards, the elbow as high as the shoulder (Fig. io). The same movements can be carried out by beginning with the back of the fists placed upon the chest, the palms turned outwards, and the elbows raised as high as possible, giving thus another most useful course. Throw the arm up to B, describe the arc to A, and return to the original position. Do this four times with the right hand, four times with the left, four times alternately, and four times together.
The exercises which follow are all to be carried out on the same plan - that is, ,first with the right hand, then with the left, then alternately, and then together, four times each.
2. The elbows to the side, the clenched hand against the front of the shoulder, the back of the hand in front (Fig. 11). Carry the forearm down to A, return to the original position in front of the shoulder, then up to B, and back to the original position.
3. Place the forearm against the waist, with the back of [-66-] the clenched hand turned outwards (Fig. 12). Carry the arm successively to A, B, and C, returning the forearm against the waist between each of these movements.
4. Place the clenched hand with the thumb in front on the back of the hips, the back of the hand upwards, the elbows pressed together behind (Fig. 13). Carry the hand sharp/y down to B, and back to the original position, then to C and back, and finally to D, describing in doing so the arc A to D.
5. The heels together, the body erect, the hands hanging down at the side. Bring the hands together in front, the fingers touching. Raise them thus above the head, the elbows pressed back, the shoulders down. Separate and extend the arms till they are on a line with the shoulders, and then let them fall at the side again.
6. Turn the palms of the hands to the front, raise them above the head till the thumbs are touching (Fig. 14), then, keeping the arms and knees straight, bend forward from the waist till the hands touch the feet, then raise the body, and return to the original position.
7. Make the forearms meet side by side on the chest, the hands closed, the knuckles outwards. Throw the arms forcibly back, the palm and wrist forward. Repeat four times.
Now follow the shoulder exercises, which tend to enlarge the cavity of the chest, and bring into healthful movement - the muscles which raise the upper ribs and shoulders.
Begin with the heels together, the hands hanging down by the side, the palms turned inwards, the elbows unbent, the head straight.
1. Raise the right shoulder four times sharply, and as high as possible, lowering it gently, then the left, then alternately, and then together, without moving the head or the rest of the body (Fig. 15).
2. Raise the elbows to the height of the shoulders. Place the hands in the armpits, with the thumb outwards (Fig. 16). Carry the hand from A to B four times, first the right hand, then the left, then alternately, then together, four times each, returning to the original position. Next carry the hands from A to C, four times each arm, four times alternately, four times together.
3. Extend the elbow in a line with the shoulder, the wrist turned downwards, so that the tips of the fingers rest on the point of the shoulder (Fig. I7). Carry the hands to A, B, and C, each four times, returning always to the original position.
4. Place the fingers against the shoulders in front, where they and the arms join, the thumbs upwards, the elbows in a line (Fig. 18). Carry the arms straight out in front, then sideways, and then back as far as they will go, returning to the first position between each.
Trunk and Waist Exercises.- Body erect, the hands on the hips, the knees unbent. Move the body slowly, sideways, four times to the right - the head bending downwards - four times to the left, and four times alternately. Then bend the tipper part of the body backwards and forwards in the same order, but only from the hips: there must be no movement whatever below the waist.
In learning dancing, women are taught the exercises specially adapted for the knees and legs, which will be duly described in a separate paper on dancing. The benefit of chest exercises. 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th; shoulder exercises, 3rd and 4th; elbow-exercises (to be described in our next paper), 1st, 2nd, 4th, and 5th, maybe enhanced by carrying on simultaneous and corresponding movements with the feet, sometimes letting the right foot accompany the left arm, and so on. In No. 5 of chest exercises, the pupil at the word "Charge" should advance the right foot forward, and repeat the exercise with the weight of the body resting on that foot, returning to the original position. All these exercises require music or a continuous system of counting.
The instructor must give the commands in a clear, firm voice, and the pupils should be placed at regular intervals, in full view of the teacher; great care should also be taken that they are not over-fatigued, and that they maintain a proper position throughout: an undue weight being laid on either foot or side of the body having an injurious effect.
CALISTHENICS FOR LADIES.-III.
FREE EXERCISES (continued from p. 66).
THE following elbow exercises will be found to be of great service in
obtaining a really good carriage, and curing round shoulders:-
1. Assume the same position as in No. 1 of chest exercises. Force the right elbow down four times to A (Fig. 19), and up four times to C, then repeat with the left, then alternately, then together, four times each.
2. Place the hands on the back of the hips (Fig. 20), and throw the elbow forcibly backwards. Repeat according to the usual course, four times each.
3. Interlace the fingers firmly against the back of the waist (Fig. 21), standing erect the while, then thrust down the interlaced hands as far as possible. Repeat four times. Next pass the interlaced hands (the palms front) to the right side in a line with the waist, and draw them down sharply, and return to the first position. Repeat on opposite side, and alternately, taking care that the movements are rapid and act on the shoulders.
4. Clasp the hands together, and place them on the waist in front, the backs of the hands forward, the elbows bent at right angles (Fig. 22). Carry the hands four times to B and back, then four times to C and back, and so on to D and E, and finally, alternately to B and to D, clapping the palms together with a slight noise at each return to the waist.
5. Place the interlaced hands, with the back of the hands upwards, on the top of the head (Fig. 23). Throw [-153-] them up (still interlaced) as far as possible to A, and back to the top of the head, rising on the toes with each movement. Repeat four times. Next draw the head, and back again, four times; the same to the right four times, and then from right to left four times. Then carry the interlaced hands down in front of the body as far as they will go, and back again.
Repeat at the back of the body four times each.
For the Arm and Hand Exercises proceed as follows:-
1. Extend the arms together in front, the palms touching (Fig. 24). Then carry, first the right hand four times, and then the left, from A to B, four times each, then alternately, and then simultaneously, clapping the palms together when they meet. Repeat the same upward from A to D. Extend the arms in the same fashion at he back, and do the same exercises from F to C, and from F to B.
2. Extend both the arms to the right in a line with the chest (Fig. 25), raise them to B. Repeat the same to the left and in front. Hold the head meanwhile erect, turning it to the left when the arms are right, and to the right when the arms are left. Repeat each movement four times.
3. Stand erect, the arms outstretched in front, then four times turn the hands down, beginning with the palms upwards. Then place the palms together, the thumbs turned up, then with the back of the hands together, with the palms down, moving the body from right to left during these manual exercises.
4. Place the body as in the illustration (Fig. 26) then reverse the position, bending the other way, and moving the hands up and down. Next interlace the hands in front of the chest, keeping the same oblique position. Stretch the hands out and back as though [-154-] swimming, rising on the toes meanwhile, extending the body upwards and forwards.
5. Stand well upright, the elbows next the side the arms hanging down, the palm turned outwards (Fig 27) Carry the arm from A to B, B to C, C to D, D to E and back again.
Head and Neck Exercises.-Stand with figure erect the hands on the back of the hips. Then bend the head to the left four times, the same to the right, and then alternately, neither the face nor shoulders being twisted. Next bend the head forwards and backwards in the same order. Then turn the head over the right shoulder bending it back as much as possible, as though trying to see the feet, but without moving the body repeat the same to the left at the back, and to the right and left in front, four times each, and four times alternately, thereby exercising all the muscles of the neck.
Fig. 28 illustrates the trunk and waist exercises described in our last paper (p. 66).
CALISTHENICS FOR LADIES.-IV.
EXERCISES WITH APPARATUS.
IN the present paper we propose to give our readers some brief descriptions
of the mode of using such apparatus as the teachers of calisthenics permit. They
serve to break the monotony of unassisted practice, and tend, in their several
ways, to bring into special development the different muscles.
We must, however, preface our remarks by saying that as the line of demarcation between gymnastics and calisthenics becomes wider, those who object to the former as applied to ladies would banish all apparatus from calisthenic teaching, except chest expanders and unweighted dumb-bells.
Dumb-bells have a very ancient origin, and were well known to the Romans. They are made in cast-iron and in wood, the latter being suitable for feminine use. In many of the new kinds the balls unscrew, so that they can be weighted at pleasure. For women's use they should be extremely light.
The breathing throughout the exercises should be quick and deep. Starting from the position of attention, the body erect, the heels together, the dumb-bells are held firmly in the hands, which hang on either side of the body.
Nearly all the exercises given in our last papers (pages 6; and 152) can be applied to dumb-bells. The following are, however, peculiarly applicable:- Chest exercises, 1, 2, 5, 6, and 7; shoulder exercises, 3 and 4; arm and hand exercises, 1 and 2.
The following are a special course:- Place the dumbbells at the back, so that they touch each other (Fig. 29), the arms hanging as low as they can; then bring them quickly to the front (Fig. 30), where they again meet then raise them to the bust (Fig. 31), and swing them back again to the original position.
Occasionally, the dumb-bell, instead of being grasped in the centre, is held by one end only, as in the accompanying illustration (Fig. 32). Begin by holding the [-192-] arms out-stretched in front, then throw back the figure from the waist, with the hands extended above the head, and finally bend forward, so that the dumb-bells may touch the ground.
These exercises should never be continued for any length of time.
A single dumb-bell can also be used for most of the exercises ; in this case, it is held in both hands, which clasp either ball.
Wands - or, as they are sometimes called, rods - furnish some useful and grace-producing exercises. They should be light, smooth, and flexible, their length equal to the height of the lobe of the pupil's ear, measured from the floor. Any well-seasoned wood will do.
1. Begin with the attitude of attention, the wand held upright against the right shoulder with the right hand. Next grasp the wand near the ends with both hands, so that it is in a horizontal position in front of the body. It is then raised above the head, and thence is carried to the back of the figure (Fig. 33), returning to the front in the same order. Repeat this four times, and then hold the wand with the palms outwards, and repeat four times more.
2. Hold the wand in front of the chest, the palms turned inwards (Fig. 34), thrust it with force down to the knees, and bring it up to the chin, the elbows held high. Then raise the wand above the head as high as possible, and back to the chin.
3. Repeat No. 1 again four times, elevating first the left arm and then the right when the wand has passed over the head, thus assuming an oblique position (Fig. 35).
4. Raise the right arm until it is above the centre of the head, and move the left so that the wand is perpendicular, the back of the left hand and the right palm outside (Fig. 36). Reverse the position by raising the left hand above the head. Repeat four times.
CALISTHENICS FOR LADIES.-V.
EXERCISES WITH APPARATUS (continued from p. 192).
CLUBS - or Indian sceptres, as some of the more ornamental of these implements are designated - are specially invigorating to the respiratory system, and strengthening to the muscles generally. The shorter kind are adopted in calisthenic exercises, longer ones finding more favour in the gymnasium. They are held firmly by the handle; and as the course begins, they should be pendant on each side, and subsequently turned upwards or downwards according to the nature of the exercises. Nos. 1, 2, and 7, of chest exercises (see page 65) are admirably adapted for their use.
The body throughout must be perfectly steady, the weight resting on the fore part of the feet, the head erect. The following form a useful course:-
Turn the back of the right hand to the front and raise it gradually, keeping the arm rigidly stiff until it is in a line with the shoulder. Then carry the club in a circular direction round the head, and rest it on the right shoulder. Repeat with the left arm, and then with both arms.
Rings are, for many reasons, one of the most useful adjuncts of calisthenic exercises. They should be some six inches in diameter, and one inch thick, rounded, and highly polished. By their means a number of exercises may be carried on in unison by two pupils without personal contact, or any risk of undue roughness being used from one to the other. The following are a suitable course for young ladies:-
1. Let two grasp the ring with the right hand, placing [-210-] the right toes together, the left feet at right angles (Fig. 37). Pull firmly, but not too hard, twisting the right arm from right to left four times and from left to right four times, keeping time to the music. Repeat this with the left hands, then with both hands, using two rings the pupils placing themselves back to back as well as face to face.
2. Turn face to face, both grasping both rings, and standing about two feet apart. Bring the rings down to the floor without bending tile knees.
3. Stand in the same position, only nearer to each other. Raise first the right arms and then the left (Fig. 38), depressing the others, and keeping time to the music ; be careful not to bend the elbow.
4. Turn back to back, and thus raise fist the right arms, and then the left, and then all together, above the head, down to the hips, and back to the shoulders (Fig. 39).
Chest expanders aim at gradually extending and developing the muscles without any forcing. Care should be taken to select those of moderate strength.
1. Standing at attention, the chest expander should be held in front of the pupil, the thumbs uppermost, the back of tile hands outwards. It must thus be passed over the head, the arms well extended without touching either the head or back, and then returned to the original position. This exercise may be repeated, taking four steps forwards, and again rising slowly on the toes, lowering the heels as slowly while the arms are extended over the head.
2. Place the expander behind, the hands close to the shoulders, stretch the hands out as far as they will go; first four times on one side, then four times on the other, then alternately, then together (Fig. 40). Then, after bringing the expander forward by extending it over the head, bend the body from the waist, keeping the knees perfectly straight till the expander touches the ground (Fig. 45). Return slowly to the original position.
3. Still keeping the expander behind, place the right hand to the right shoulder, the left arm close to the left side (Fig. 41), and stretch the right hand in an oblique direction ; then reverse the position, and repeat with the left.
As a continuation to this exercise, pass the right foot well behind as the right arm is raised, return to the I original position. Then the same with the left foot.. Repeat these four times each. Then at every movement of the arm make a corresponding one with the foot, advancing four steps in front and four to the back, first the right foot and arm, and then the left, then the right arm and left foot together, and so on.
4. Place the expander in front in a line with the shoulders, the left elbow bent, the right extended. The point to he observed is, that the hand and elbow be kept in line with the shoulder (Fig. 42). Extend the left arm back to the original position, and then the right.
5. Hold the expander as in Fig. 43. The head turned in the opposite direction. Without moving the left arm, raise the right, returning to the original position; then bringing tile hands to the opposite side, repeat with the left hand.
6. Place the expander at the back, the right foot and left arm forward, bend slowly on left knee, leaning well back, raising the right arm and depressing the left (Fig. 44). Rise to an erect position, and repeat. Perform the same movement with the left foot forward and the expander in front.
These exercises may be carried out by two pupils; together using two expanders. They may be also performed by one pupil with two expanders attached to the wall. And, when necessary, expanders so secured may be used while the pupil is in a recumbent position on a properly-prepared reclining board or plane - a plan highly to be commended in case of a weak spine.
CALISTHENICS FOR LADIES.-VI.
HAVING in previous chapters shown what calisthenics really are, how they can
be carried out with and without paraphernalia, and in what this paraphernalia
consists, we can hardly close the subject without some slight reference to
gymnastics for ladies, which occupy an important position in the educational
programme of the nineteenth century, since women have urged their right to a
fuller participation in educational advantages.
Of old, there was no lack of cricket-grounds, gymnasiums, and other resorts, where men were enabled to exercise their muscular activity ; but that women should recognise any such want was never realised. Now we are alive to the fact that, by a judicious exercise of the limbs under careful supervision, much strength and power may be gained, and that a graceful carriage and erect bearing may be secured to women by taking part in physical training ; that instead of the frames of young girls becoming weak, and themselves listless, health must be secured by attention to their bodies ; for there is much truth in Sterne's homely simile, that "a man's body and his mind are like a jerkin and a jerkin's lining: rumple the one you rumple the other."
To meet this want we find that many gymnasiums have sprung into existence in various parts of the country, specially devoted to women, and that other large and well-known establishments have set apart certain days in the week exclusively for female pupils.
We do not propose to enter into the course of exercises pursued, as they differ materially from calisthenics, the paraphernalia being dumb-bells from about 1 lb. in weight, bar-bells, or two-handed dumb-bells, weight-machines, also called "pulley-hauleys," parallel bars, swings, and see-saws. In ,all these the pupils seem to take special delight; and as soon as the classes are over it is curious to see the rush that is made to the several poles, pulley-hauleys, &c.; and while one young girl, running up an elastic board, vaults with the agility of an acrobat, others scramble up upright ladders, or up poles as high as the ceiling, thereby securing, without doubt, much suppleness of limb, and the power of looking down from any height without dizziness.
As soon as women experience the benefits of physical education a general desire arises to share in its advantages, among which we may reckon a sense of power of action, an increased cheerfulness, and general vigour; for whatever bodily organs are properly exercised become strong, though irregular exercise is worse than none at all. What bodily training will do is best seen by the manner in which a slouching plough-boy is transformed into a smart soldier.
Health of body and grace of bearing is as necessary to women as to men; indeed, grace is one of the attributes naturally looked for in women. The ancients more thoroughly recognised the importance of cultivating it than we do. When Mercury was the god of the gymnaseum, mind and muscle went hand in hand in the centuries of the Olympiads.
The subject of calisthenics is really a wide one, embracing as it does so extensive a field in physical education, which Peter Henry Ling (the famous Swede, whose name plays an important part in all such teaching) characterises as rational gymnastics. He is the originator one of the best systems of physical culture; and Dr. Roth, who has devoted a long life to the promotion of physical education among women, has translated his work into our own tongue.
Parents and teachers entering on this wide field must remember that careful personal supervision, from the earliest years of children is as necessary as teaching; and that, though most of the games and much of the natural exercise of little ones are, as it were, the commencement of physical education, still there is a right way and a wrong one of doing most things; therefore, children should be taught how to stand, how to sit, and even how to lie down. Many young girls become crooked by the habit of placing the hands behind them while repeating their lessons - a most injurious method, tending to round the shoulders and depress the chest, unless the thumbs are uppermost, the arms straight. Moreover, the spine and scapula are often displaced by holding one elbow behind the back with the opposite hand; and many deformities arise from a habit of standing on one foot, also by the wearing of low frocks, which is an encouragement to thrust up one or other shoulder.
When the bones and muscles are as supple its they are in childhood and youth, they are easily distorted. Growing girls should nor be allowed to carry younger ones for any long time on one arm. In sitting they should not be permitted to stoop over their their needlework ; when writing, the left arm should be raised some three inches by convenient support beneath. A very common but most injurious mode of reading which children contract, especially out of school hours, is with the head bent down to meet the book, supported in both hands, while the elbows rest on the knee ; a similar bad habit is often acquired in learning drawing, by stooping the body towards the paper instead of raising the drawing properly in front of the figure; and in music also the stool should be drawn up well to the instrument, or the body is thrown at right angles in an ungraceful attitude.
Attention should be particularly paid to the kind of chairs and seats used by children. Arm-chairs are bad, as they are very apt to make children lean on one arm. But the chairs they use should have backs : it is not only fatiguing but injurious for them to sit upright for any long time without some inclined support ; and for older. girls, during the period of study, it is certainly most unadvisable that they should he compelled to occupy very hard seats for many consecutive hours. For school desks and chairs combined, the Swedish ones are particularly to be recommended : the chairs have comfortable backs, and the addition of small cushions makes them a very easy seat ; the desks have receptacles for books, slates, &c. ; and one of their great advantages is that, being each one separate, the pupils do not come into immediate contact with each other - often a most disturbing element in study.
In lying down, children should have a broad pillow, to come well under the shoulders, and they should be encouraged to lie straight, with the body extended as much as possible. Seeing that "life is not alone to live but to live well," and that so much of our power of living well depends on our good health and our bodily condition, it is desirable, in this most important period of youth, to devote proper attention to the developmcnt of the body, which, unfortunately, was for a very long time a point almost neglected in our svstem of education, although many distinguished teachers have not failed to point out that "a sound mind in a sound body is happiness."
Bearing in mind tile careful supervision we have just described, when children beginning to study are considered old enough to enter upon calisthenic exercises, care must be taken lest the novelty and probable enjoyment lead to the error of their carrying the exercises on for too long a time at once. The duration of the lesson should be apportioned to the strength of the pupils, and gradually lengthened. Half an hour in the day is generally quite enough, and that should be divided.
The exercises for the head, legs, and trunk, should be done slowly, those for the arms quickly, and a minute's rest should be allowed between each set of exercises. They must all be carried out with exceeding exactness; slovenly movements do more harm than good. What is worth doing at all is worth doing well.
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