Indian Clubs were a popular form of exercise and sport for men, women and children in America from the 1860 s through the 1930 s. "The Indian Club can be traced to one of the most ancient weapons in India, the war club, or gada, a symbol of invincible physical prowess and worldly power" according to Alice Hoffman in her book Indian Clubs.
During the 19th century merchants, missionaries, travelers, and officers of the British army stationed in India gave accounts of Indian-club swinging as a recreational sport and a means of developing physical strength. The clubs vary in weight according the strength of the person using them, and in length to about 2-1/2 feet. In use, they expand the chest and exercise every muscle in the body concurrently.
Recognizing the beneficial character of this type of athletic training, Indian clubs came to America in 1861, introduced by Sim D. Kehoe, a well-known American proponent of exercise and manufacturer of gymnastic equipment. Convinced he had found the perfect exercise, he refined the shape of the Indian Club and in 1862, began to manufacture and sell the clubs to the public. Soon, they became the rage and part of most athletic regimens that lasted well into the 1930 s. They were found as exercise equipment in gyms throughout the country.