Dumbbells and pots

Funky Phrases

Half of the year is gone and far more than half the people whose New Year’s resolution was to get in shape have long since put away the dumbbells and let their bodies go to pot. Which brings up the questions, why are exercise weights called “dumbbells”? And just what “pot” did their body go into?

Dumbbell—the exercise equipment, not the name siblings throw at one another—traces its origin back to church bell ringers. Church bells are heavy, about 400 to 7,000 pounds heavy. So while the thought of youthful bellringers being pulled off their feet and riding the rope on the bell’s upswing is deli...


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