No one knows what could trend in next 100 years. The same happened when an ancient torture tool (still one for people trying to shed those extra kilos) became today’s fitness machine must-have. Lower down those brows, we will tell you more about it, keep reading!
Treadmill was designed to destroy English prisoners’ mind, body and spirit. The machine was invented as a prison rehabilitation tool in Britain two hundred years ago. It was supposed to make the prisoners suffer and benefit from their sweat. The prisoners were forced to walk for either pumping out water or milling the maize that lead to the name “tread-mill” for as long as 6 hours a day in groups. The money obtained by selling the maize was their earnings for buying essentials during their tenure.
According to the English engineer Sir William Cubitt, the predecessor of the modern fitness machine was invented in 1818 to occupy prisoners sentenced to hard labour. During that time, it was called the “tread-wheel.”
10 to 20 prisoners stood on a long wooden wheel, spread around its circumference with 24 “tread boards.” The prisoners took a horizontal bar to stabilize the wheel and turned the wheel around the same way a water wheel was driven by a river.
If you feel that walking while taking isn’t a bad idea, after all, people also go for hiking together, so you must know that some machines were smaller than many jails, and most treadmills also featured partitions to discourage convicts to socialize. In summer, they slogged for ten hours a day, and in winter, just seven. What do you think now?
While the wheel is used primarily as punishment, the device’s permanent name, the treadmill in older times, was used for crushing grain at Brixton Prison.
Finally, the tread-wheel dropped out in the late 1800s when the US prisons turned to similar backbreaking work, like picking cotton or breaking rocks and British prisons gave up the wheel for being too cruel. Many people with heart conditions perished on the machine with an average of 1 per week leading to the acceptance that it wasn’t very ‘safe’ mode of punishment.
Inspired by the concept, US inventor William Staub designed a PaceMaster 600 home exercise system. In New Jersey, he began producing home treadmills (He used it himself until he died at the age of 96).
In the mid-1900s what was once a torture type became an enjoyable activity, as the growth of factory and office employment led to a sedentary population. Treadmill, more like conveyor belts in the manufacturing units today, were immediately resurrected as luxurious workout equipment for workmen who were sitting all day long.
Today, treadmill is one the most popular and highest selling health and fitness equipment. We climb on and off it, by choice, letting it amuse us while we sweat.