In the dining room, an odd-looking chair caught my attention.
One of the docents, dressed in period costume, noticed me looking at this strange piece of furniture. Pressing down on the tall seat several times to demonstrate the spring action of the bellows hidden inside, she explained it was an “exercise chair.”
I later learned that this “chair” was actually a reproduction chamber horse, a piece of exercise equipment
from the 1700s. Sitting in the chair, one would bounce up and down, mimicking the activity of riding a horse, the 18th
century equivalent of a stationary bike or treadmill.
While wintering in London, John Wesley used a chamber horse to help him stay in shape for his grueling riding schedule
the rest of the year. Overseeing the Methodist movement, Wesley traveled long distances on horseback well into his 80s.