Beck Center English Dept. University Libraries Emory University
Emory Women Writers Resource Project Collections:
Women's Advocacy Collection

The Woman's Era, Volume 1, an electronic edition

by Josephine St. P. Ruffin [Ruffin, Josephine St. P.] and Florida R. Ridley [Ridley, Florida R.]

date: [1894-1897]
source publisher: Woman's Era Club
collections: Abolition, Freedom, and Rights, Women's Advocacy

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Mary P. Evans

July 1894

Paper No.3,

The German system of gymnastics, almost a century old and built up by men of great culture and experience,--physicians, physiologists, and pedagogues--embraces exercises with apparatus, calisthenics, outdoor sports, such a jumping, running, leaping, throwing the weight, wards, dumb bells and clubs and military gymnastics. In this system specialism is discouraged. the aim is general physical culture. Another feature is class work, which produces endless pleasure and refreshment of mind, and to secure this result the instruction begins with the simple and works up to the more complicated movements.

The Swedish or Ling system of gymnastics is founded upon the laws of nature and the human organism, and the exercises are selected only when proved to be needed by the body. It aims to correct faulty growth and bad posture. This system starts with the functions of the heart and lungs, as the fundamental functions, with the welfare of all the other functions dependent upon them. Starting with the heart and lungs right, the progress is steady and systematic.

Perhaps the best system to be pursued is a combination of the Ling and German systems under careful supervision of experienced instructors. In these two systems and the outdoor games and exercises in the reach of most of us may be found the means of bringing the body into harmony with the will, of attaining the grace of body, the growth of muscle,--the proportion so often lost sight of--the health of body and brain, and the dexterity of limbs and control of nerves of such inestimable value.

Faithful, earnest and painstaking physical exercise, such as has been indicated under intelligent direction, rewards the girl who keeps it up with health, youth and beauty. It keeps the body in the best condition for throwing off disease. It enables you to keep in the best condition for work with the hands or with the brain. It is a wholesome and powerful preventive of morbid, sickly and injurious brooding and thinking. It helps you to see things, to know people, and to judge them in a broad instead of a narrow spirit. It prepares you to meet disappointment, sorrow, ill treatment and great suffering as the strong, courageous and splendid woman meets them. It is a great aid to clear, quick and right thinking.

Physical beauty, strength, health and youth are priceless treasures, but they cannot take the place of mind and heart. The physically perfect woman is not full grown unless heart and mind have been also developed, trained and refined. Indeed, one aids the other, and neither can be fully developed without the other. "An open heart, and an honsst [sic] mind are as essential to youth and health as breathing is." The face, the eyes, the mouth reflect the sentiments, the thought of heart and mind. The mind and heart that feed on diseased ideas, that live in impurity instead of in the fresh, inspiring, healthy atmosphere of right living and right acting, will take from the face all refinement, all beauty, and mark it with hard lines.

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