|Vintage Indian clubs/Wikipedia|
As proof that fitness fads are nothing new, I'd like to point out this brief notice that appeared at the top of The Chariton Herald's local news page on Feb. 18, 1886:
"Calisthenics: Miss Carrie Sellers announces that she will meet with those wishing to organize a class in club swinging on Saturday evening, Feb. 20th, from 7 to 9 o'clock in the Exchange Block, over Oppenheimer's clothing store."
The Exchange Block was a new double-front business block on the west side of the square at the time. Today, The Office bar occupies its north half.
Elsewhere on that page, a news story expanded on the bare bones of Miss Sellers' notice:
"A notice in another column announces a meeting for the purpose of organizing a class in Calisthenics. It will be conducted by Miss Carrie Sellers, of Oskaloosa. She will give full instructions in the science and practice of healthful exercise, paying particular attention to Indian Club Swinging and Dumb Bell exercises.
"This is something that should receive the consideration and patronage of all; middle aged, youth and children. It is an easy matter to enlist attention in, and the practice is certain to add to the health and vigor of any constitution.
"We trust the time is not far distant when such training will become a leading feature in common schools. It has already been introduced in many of the schools in Iowa, and in every instance with the most marked beneficial results. Miss Sellers is thoroughly skilled in her profession, and those improving the opportunity for such instruction will never regret it. Her first meeting will be on Saturday evening next, in the room over Oppenheimer's clothing store, from 7 to 9 o'clock."
A few weeks later, Miss Sellers moved on to Creston after a successful stay in Chariton to share the good news of Indian club swinging there, as reported in The Herald of March 25:
"Miss Carrie Sellers, of Oskaloosa, who has been conducting a class in calisthenics in Chariton for some two months past, has gone to Creston where she will be engaged in teaching. Miss Sellers was quite successful in arousing an interest in physical culture among our citizens, and an effort will be made to have this kind of training introduced into our common schools. From an Oskaloosa paper we clip the following:
"The Oskaloosa schools introduced volunteer physical culture into the high school department two years ago. The first work done with Indian clubs, and after that dumb-bells were introduced. Such success attended this volunteer attempt that more attention was given to it last year, and two classes were organized and maintained in that department. This year, all the elementary schools have introduced exercises without apparatus and with dumb-bells. The success that has attended this is greater than we had reason to expect, and physical culture in this artificial way will be kept as part of the course of instruction."