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'Battle Creek Health Builder', exercise machine, Michigan, United States, 1925-1935

This mechanical massaging machine stimulated the body via a vibrating belt. The maker of the Battle Creek Health Builder claimed it was effective for ailments such as constipation, emaciation, fatigue, headaches, high or low blood pressure, indigestion, insomnia, a large abdomen, menstrual disorders, poor circulation, rheumatism and paralysis. The instructions state: “The curative effects of massage are most diversified. Gently applied, the effect is calming…applied with vigour, it is a most powerful stimulus, arousing sluggish organs to action, energising weakened parts and producing powerful stimulant effects." The Battle Creek Sanatorium in Michigan was an upmarket ‘health spa’. It was founded in the 1860s. It became popular after John Harvey Kellogg, of the ‘Kellogg’ cereal family, headed the medical department during the 1870s. It introduced mechanical exercise equipment such as the Health Builder by the 1920s. These were the forerunners to those we see in modern gyms.

Object number:

1985-1570

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Glossary:

Glossary: exercise aids

trial term S&H

Glossary: massaging device

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