Thursday, May 15, 2014

Keeping Fit With Rudolph Valentino

In 1923 Rudolph Valentino, the silent screen's infamous Latin lover, published an 81 page book called How To Keep Fit. And for the last few months, I have been doing just that with Rudolph. In the book, he tailors his exercise activity by the coast on which he happens to be: outdoor types of exercises in California and indoor types of exercises in New York. Fortunately, having just moved to New York from California myself, it is the New York, anaerobic type exercises that he has documented with photographs.

I've cherry-picked fitness information and photos from the book (excising the wrist rolls) and organized it in an easy-to-follow format. Mr. Valentino's circuit can be done at home, day or night, without much apparatus or expense. Every body part is accounted for and Valentino has limited the movements so that a period of fifteen to twenty minutes each day completes the circuit. There is a link at the bottom of the article to download the complete book (with wrist rolls) in PDF format.

It is not necessary to spend much time at these exercises. Approach them with a spirit of energy and concentration. Let one follow after the other but make no attempt to exhaust yourself.Your exercises should be stimulating rather than fatiguing.Continue each movement until only slightly tired and then go one to the next one, making sure that you do each one with spirit and energy.

And as Rudolph stresses throughout All who have mechanical defects should take care when following this regimine.

  1. Exercises 1-4: Neck, Spine
  2. Exercises 5-9: Back
  3. Exercises 10-13: Chest, Shoulders
  4. Exercises 14-16: Abdomen
  5. Exercises 17-23: Arms
  6. Exercises 27-30: Legs
  7. The Tonic

Exercises 1-4: Neck, Spine


Perform these neck exercises (primarily for the upper spine) with a vigorous stretching action. The manner of execution has everything to do with successful results. It loosens the vertebrae of the upper spine and acts as a tonic upon the central nervous system. Bring the head far forward stretching hard and then bring the head far backward. It is more important to do them energetically a few times than carelessly a great number of times.


Turn your head far to one side and then to the other, stretching the chin as far over each shoulder as you can comfortably.


The bridge is partly for the neck and partly for the back. Lower the body to rest upon the floor and raise it back to this position. Support your weight with your hands until your neck is developed enough that you can rely on it to support the body. Repeat 5 or 10 times as a pure strength building exercise. (Ed. Note: Even those without mechanical defects should take care with this one.)

Exercises 5-9: Back


This body-twisting exercise wrings the spinal column, maintaining elasticity. With arms outstretched to the sides, bring the body far around to one side, then far around to the other side. Stretch in each case so as to twist the spine as much as you can, thus stretching the internal organs as well.


Side-bending exercises are best performed with your arms outstretched to each side as in the photograph. Swing one arm high over the head as you bend over, and then reverse. Bend as far to each side as you can as this liver-squeezer will compress, stretch and stimulate the internal organs.


Bending far backward is more effective with arms outstretched upward, as in the photograph. The first time you attempt this you may not be able to bend far back. Take care in your attempts. Perform in conjunction with the following at least ten times, possibly twenty.


Reverse the preceding movement. Don't touch the floor but stretch the arms backward between the legs.


Rotate the entire upper body from the waist up in a circle, first around in one direction and then the other. Bend forward horizontally, then swing around far to one side, continue backwards (photograph) and around to the other side.

Exercises 10-13: Chest, Shoulders


All movements which stretch the arms above the head can be recommended for improving the general posture of the body. With a starting position of arms at the sides, swing the arms up sideways and high over head, repeating five or ten times. Next execute a similar movement, swinging the arms straight forward and upward high over the head. In each instance, stretch vigorously upwards and observe what it does to your chest - they are actually deep breathing exercises. Inhale, raise - exhale, lower.


Clasp your hands behind your back, then pull the shoulders backward and downward. Execute this exercise with an energetic stretching impulse. Relax for a moment and repeat at least ten times.


Clasp your hands together and vigorously pull your arms across the front of your chest. Vary this by lowering hands to waistline, raising to the front of the face and finally clasping behind the head (as in the photograph below). Repeat five or ten times in each position. The harder you pull, the greater the benefit, the more you will like this exercise.


This is the behind the head hand clasp pull described above.


This exercise is just the reverse of the preceding inasmuch as it involves pushing the hands together instead of pulling, and it employs just the opposite muscle groups.

Exercises 14-16: Abdomen


The old reliable is best done with arms folded as in the photograph, lying down, rising, and repeating ten to 20 times. Supplement this exercise with the raising of the legs while lying on the back, either to the vertical position or bringing them way back to touch the floor with the toes behind the head.


While easier when the feet are braced, holding them down with concentrated mental effort is preferred.


Arrange furniture as shown in the photograph, clasp your hands behind your head and lower the body until the head touches the floor. The rise to a sitting position and repeat ten times.

Exercises 17-23: Arms


The dip may be done on a level floor with the body held straight and rigid, lowering the chest to the floor and pushing up again to arm's length. It is easier if performed as in the top photograph, with a table, or between the arms of an arm chair. Hold the body rigid, bend elbows, lowering the body, and then push up to arm's length, repeating ten times.


This manner of the dip is more advanced. The two photographs (with feet on table) are self explanatory. If you are not able to do this, practice on a level floor for two or three weeks. When you can do this with the feet on the chair you will find it extremely interesting.


You will need a bar. Nearly every man can chin himself once or twice. Can you do it ten times, or twenty times? You can reverse the position of the hands for variety.

Exercises 27-29: Legs


In a deep knee bend, lower the body to a squatting position, then rises to a standing position, repeating and continuing for ten or twenty times. In each case as you rise to the standing position, rise high upon the toes thus bringing into action the muscles of the calves. Hold a weight to make the exercise more effective.


This one leg deep knee bend is regarded as a test of strength and coordination. Squat and rise first on one leg half a dozen times, and then on the other.


It is most readily done by stretching the arms forward to maintain balance.

The Tonic


Place hands on the floor about 2 feet away from the wall. Throw your feet up against the wall as in the photograph. The purpose is to correct any prolapsus of the vital organs and to readjust or balance the circulation of the blood. When taking this position two to three times in succession, this exercise is like a tonic. Valentino also has a chapter on better eating - as do I.

WORLD INTERNET PREMIERE: This isn't technically a WORLD INTERNET PREMIERE because I downloaded the book from a torrent. Kudos to the originator of the torrent and the scanner of the book. I am uploading it to archive.org so that the book will be available for generations to come...or at least until the planet implodes. Whichever comes first.


THE END

2 comments:

  1. I know I am old....I think that was my PT schoolbook!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. haha - at first I thought you meant Birch Lane!

    ReplyDelete