The President has a dislike almost akin to abhorrence for mechanical appliances intended to exercise the muscles of the body. There is not a dumbbell, or an Indian club, nor a medicine-ball, nor a punching-bag, nor a turning-bar, nor a trapeze, nor a lifting or pulling apparatus, nor a muscle—exercising machine of any sort or description in the White House. The only mechanical device used by the President is a simple, unoffending golf-club.
[Illustration: Spring work.]
Aside from his work in the open air, Mr. Wilson takes a number of physical exercises indoors, very few of which have ever been described in print. Some of these exercises are taken as a substitute for outdoor recreations at times when weather conditions are too extreme. But the major part of them, and especially the more unusual of these exercises, are regularly practised as a part of his daily routine. As a matter of fact, they are pretty closely dove-tailed in with his office work.
However, if the President really has a favorite among his various physical exercises, it is said to be that of “flexing.” This he employs almost entirely as an indoor exercise, and it perhaps is the one he practises more often than any other.
“Flexing,” as Doctor Grayson put it into its simplest every-day term, is nothing more nor less than just good, old-fashioned “stretching” expressed in a scientific and systematized form of exercise. It is the most generally and commonly executed muscular exercise, and it is practised by nearly all the animal kingdom.
President Wilson uses his flexing movements with a careful regard to system, and a great deal more regularly and frequently than any other of his varied physical exercises. Particularly during his periods of concentration, when at work at his desk in the preparation of his messages to Congress or in the drafting of notes to foreign governments, the President, at short intervals, will either settle back in his chair and flex his arms and hands and the muscles across his back and chest, or he will rise and stand erect for a more thorough practice of the flexing movements for a period of a minute or more. At these times he will throw his body into almost every conceivable posture—twisting, turning, bending, stooping, the arms down, forward, back, and over his head, the muscles of the limbs and entire body flexed almost to the point of tremor, the fingers spread, and the muscles rigidly tensed.
In the opinion of Doctor Grayson, if business and professional men, particularly those who work at high tension in the cities, would pause in their work at frequent intervals during the day and give a few seconds of their time to the energetic practice of the flexing or stretching exercises, there would soon come to be not only less, but, possibly in time, no cases reported of this or that noted man, the famous lawyer, merchant, or financier, dropping dead at his desk or in his home or in the street, on account of apoplexy caused by hardened arteries.