At Peterboro, N. H., Dudley Allen Sargent, M.D., 75-year-old "apostle of exercise for everybody," died. Why will he be remembered? Because he was trailblazer for all that is reliable in modern physical culture and gymnastic training, particularly in schools and colleges. Because he directed Hemenway Gymnasium at Harvard University for 40 years and various physical training schools as well. Because he invented and perfected most gymnastic apparatus in use in the U. S. today. Because of late he pioneered the field of athletics and sane body-building for women. Because, throughout his career, he served no end ulterior to his avowed one—health, fresh air, well-being for all.
Dr. Sargent was of Maine Puritan stock. His bodily vigor and passion for exercise revealed themselves during his school days. As a lad of 20, he was invited to direct the gymnasium of Bowdoin College. He accepted, sat to a tutor when not teaching the Bowdoinians to flex their limbs, became a Freshman himself. That was in 1871. The next year, Yale College, awakening to the new movement for physical education, sent for Sargent. Without interrupting his studies at Bowdoin, he supervised both the Yale and Bowdoin gymnasia for three years. In 1875, he was graduated by Bowdoin, entered the Yale Medical School, set about formulating his contributions to reliable physical culture.
In a day when the human body was not thought a wholly fitting topic for conversation, a day when athletes "trained" on beer and cigars, young Sargent dared announce that no two physiques have the same flaws, that each should be made the object of close scrutiny and the subject of carefully calculated exercises. To him it was obvious that running a mile or otherwise expending energy wholesale, would not strengthen a weak neck or flabby arms so fast as studied exertion of the neck muscles or of the biceps. He invented ingenious strength and endurance tests, opened a gymnasium in Manhattan, set out to prove his theories upon his pupils.
In 1879, Harvard engaged this promising "radical" to direct Hemenway Gymnasium. When he relin- quished the position, 40 years later, he had furnished the country with "chest weights" and other body-building machinery, had brought Harvard's strength-index up 25%, had introduced an "anthropometric" (strength-measuring) formula now in wide use, had supervised the physical education of scores of athletes and hundreds of gymnastic teachers.