Bodybuilding

From Torture to Fitness: The Astonishing Evolution of Treadmills!

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Engaging in physical activities using a treadmills can sometimes feel less like exercise and more like a draconian ordeal.

This sentiment has historical roots, given that the treadmill originated as a tool for penal labor. Sir William Cubitt, an English civil engineer, introduced the first treadmill in the 19th century as a punitive measure to discipline idle prisoners at St. Edmond’s Gaol in Bury. His invention reflected the prevalent Victorian belief linking moral benevolence to physical fitness.

The concept of Treadmills started from tortures until sport activity.

Cubitt engineered a treadmill that turned on a horizontal axis, compelling inmates to step in an upward motion akin to using a modern stepper machine for potentially grueling hour-long sessions. Equipped with a handrail for stability, the prisoners walked on the spokes of a massive wheel, which churned gears to drain water or grind grain – hence the name ‘treadmill.'(1)

The duration prisoners spent on these contraptions varied, but on average, they endured six hours a day, a feat comparable to ascending several thousand feet—a labor as intense as reaching mid-way up Mount Everest.

Inmates’ malnutrition and the strenuous nature of the task led to widespread injuries, though these perilous conditions appeared to be disregarded by most prison officials. In 1824, one New York jailer, James Hardie, commended the monotony, rather than the difficulty, as being the main deterrent effect of the treadmill.

The practice persisted in England until it was ultimately deemed too harsh and abolished by the late 1800s.

Inception of the Treadmill Patent in the US

The first US patent for a treadmill ‘training machine’ emerged in 1913.

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Fast forward to 1952, muscle-operated treadmills were replaced when Robert Bruce and Wayne Quinton developed the first electric-powered treadmill, which had medical applications for evaluating heart and lung health. Over time, these machines transitioned to household use and commercial settings like gyms and medical centers.

The resurgence of treadmills in the 1970s can largely be attributed to Dr. Kenneth H. Cooper, who promoted the treadmill for cardiovascular stress testing, despite initial concerns over the test’s intensity potentially causing heart attacks.

Evolution and Integration of Technology in Treadmills

By 2003, the treadmill had evolved significantly, with LifeFitness introducing a touchscreen multimedia-equipped model that was iPod-compatible.

New Treadmills technology!

More recently, treadmill desks became fashionable, offering the ability to exercise while engaged in work. High-profile personalities, including Victoria Beckham, were even documented utilizing them while donning heels, a fact noted by Vogue Magazine.

The modern treadmill comes loaded with features like built-in television, internet access, and heart monitoring capabilities, and some models can even fetch prices upwards of $15,000, tracking all workout data to aid personal trainers’ oversight of clients’ progress.

Significant achievements have been made using treadmills, as showcased when ultramarathon runner Susie Chan set a new record in 2016 by running over 68 miles in a span of 12 hours.

Treadmills You can find these days

Today, gym treadmills continue this trajectory of innovation. They integrate cutting-edge technology, like immersive virtual reality experiences, personalized workout programs, and advanced biometric tracking, offering a comprehensive fitness solution. Current bodybuilders and athletes benefit from these advancements, as treadmills provide a controlled environment for cardiovascular training. This aids in improving endurance, burning calories, and enhancing overall fitness. The personalized data tracking allows for tailored workout regimes, ensuring efficiency and effectiveness in training.

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Additionally, the use of treadmills complements the fitness regimens of those who might be using steroids for bodybuilding. While steroids can enhance muscle growth and recovery, cardiovascular health remains crucial. Treadmills offer a safe and effective way to maintain heart health and stamina, which is vital for anyone engaged in intensive physical training, including bodybuilders.

The Treadmill’s Horizon

Today, manufacturers are inventing groundbreaking treadmills, such as self-propelling curved machines that replicate a more natural running experience.

Technogym’s Skillmill offerings combine traditional treadmill elements with additional equipment like bars and resistance bands to diversify workouts.

Outer Space and Anti-Gravity Treadmill Innovations

Even space exploration has seen treadmill usage, with astronaut Sunita Williams completing the equivalent of the Boston marathon from the International Space Station in 2002, followed by Sultan Al Neyedi replication with the UAE space in 2012.

UAE Sultan Al Neyadi 1

For earthbound applications, NASA’s introduction of the anti-gravity treadmill, AlterG, allows users to experience a reduced impact on their joints akin to exercising with most of their weight lifted.

Although these high-tech treadmills—like the one used by Gordon Ramsay for his Achilles tendon recovery—come with steep price tags, they point towards the potential for advanced rehabilitative exercises.

Similarly intriguing are virtual reality treadmills, which pair with VR headsets to transport users to various immersive environments for exercise.

In light of the pandemic and associated social distancing mandates, the notion of participating in digital marathons from the comfort of home is gaining appeal.

It’s captivating to witness the evolution of the treadmill: once a tool designed to break spirits through relentless repetition, it has transformed into a source of amusement and potential escapism.

Despite all the technological advancements rendering treadmills more engaging than ever, some may choose to stick to other forms of exercise like weight training or outdoors running.

REFERENCES

(1) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penal_treadmill

(2) https://mumbaimirror.indiatimes.com/news/world/sunita-williams-tries-fitness-programme-in-zero-gravity/articleshow/15671045.cms

(3) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31045790/

(4) https://www.siasat.com/video-uae-astronaut-sultan-al-neyadi-uses-treadmill-in-space-2545146/

General Practitioner at | Website | + posts

Dr. Grant Fourie, a specialist in male hormones, is based in Cape Town, South Africa. He provides comprehensive treatments for conditions related to low testosterone, such as erectile dysfunction, fatigue, and mood changes. His methods include hormone replacement therapy and other modern treatment options.
Contact me via email or phone to book personal appointment in my clinic: The Village Square, Cape Town - South Africa

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About Dr. Grant Fourie

Dr. Grant Fourie, a specialist in male hormones, is based in Cape Town, South Africa. He provides comprehensive treatments for conditions related to low testosterone, such as erectile dysfunction, fatigue, and mood changes. His methods include hormone replacement therapy and other modern treatment options. Contact me via email or phone to book personal appointment in my clinic: The Village Square, Cape Town - South Africa

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