Saturday, February 03, 2007


The Chamber-Horsemen of the Apocalypse

The iGallop is already famed for, uh, well... you'll just have to see for yourself:

They've only just started showing up the US, though, and it wasn't until I saw an iGallop in the window of an airport Brookstone that I found myself doing a double-take. Wait... No... it couldn't be!

Last October I wrote in New Scientist about George Cheyne, a popular 18th century diet doctor -- this despite his weighing 440 pounds at the height of his popularity. Cheyne was also responsible for a long-forgotten exercise fad:

Cheyne championed the “chamber horse”, a chair sporting an elevated seat on what resembled an accordion bellows. Inside was a large spring, and by gripping the chair’s arms you could bounce up and down in a simulation of horse-riding.... Even the dour Methodist theologian John Wesley spent time each day bouncing up and down on one. Cheyne recommended to Samuel Richardson that he compose his novel Pamela by dictating it while bouncing on a chamber horse... Nearly a century later the physician Benjamin Rush was still prescribing chamber-horses, and Jane Austen's characters also resorted to them. Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries estate sales regularly turned up abandoned chamber-horses — though any resemblance to our own garages of dusty treadmills and exercise bicycles is, of course, surely coincidental.

Amazingly, the iGallop appears to be exactly that: a souped-up chamber-horse rendered in high-impact plastic and vinyl. I suspect, though, that like the chamber horse it will be chiefly remembered for its unintentional humor:

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