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Doctor Gustaf Zander’s Wonderful Steam-Powered Exercise Machines

“The prescription [of exercise] is methodically composed according to the needs and condition of the patient.”

– Dr Gustav Zander, 1894

“Increase the circulation of blood to tired and cold feet with a foot massage.”

In 1857, Dr. Gustav Zander began his career as a physician and gymnastics instructor. Faced with limited time and a large class, he recognised the need for a solution. He designed wooden machines equipped with weights, levers, and springs to provide resistance. Initially, they relied on human muscle power, but by 1868, steam engines were integrated. In the 1890s, these were replaced by electric motors.

News of Dr. Zander's mechanotherapy tools, which employed mechanical methods for healing, spread quickly. In 1865, the first Zander Institute opened in Stockholm. By 1911, there were 300 Zander Institutes worldwide. Notably, even the ill-fated Titanic featured an exercise room equipped with Zander's renowned gymnastic apparatus.

These images, taken from his 1892 book "Dr. G. Zander's Medico-Mechanical Gymnastik," showcase a diverse range of exercise equipment, demonstrated by elegantly dressed Victorian models.


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