The basic order of the day in the fort was to be prepared and ready, if an enemy attacked. Consequently, physical training was important for the soldiers. You can try the training facilities of the soldiers in the gym – are you fit to meet the enemy?
Plenty of obstacles
The outdoor obstacle courses could be composed like this:
- Flat stones in irregular rows, which you had to step on while running.
- A three-meter high wall to overcome
- A parapet of 1½ meter to jump up and down
- Trenches to run through in a bended position
- Low nets of wire to crawl under
- A five-meter wide and three meter high, steep rampart
The training with the obstacles was performed in light canvas uniform as well as in full field uniform with or without full marching equipment.
Competition in a warm and heavy uniform
At the beginning of the 1900’s, physical training became an even more important part of the training of the soldiers, and competitions and sport festivals were arranged. In 1906, a sports arrangement for the drill school for recruits of the 12th Battalion took place on Copenhagen Common. There were 11 disciplines which all should build up the physical strength of the soldiers. Some of the disciplines were in the hot and heavy field uniform of wool, others in the canvas training uniform.
Examples of the disciplines:
Long Jumping – in field uniform. The longest jump was 4,24 meter.
Relay Race – in training uniform with boots. Four men ran 100 meter each. The best time was 1 minute and 5 seconds.
Quick Changing Race – where all participants started in training uniform and gymshooes without cap. The first change was to gym gear and then to full field uniform with equipment. The best time was 2 minutes and 7 seconds.
Climbing in training uniform and gymshoes. Only the arms could be used to climb up of a 5,5 meter long smooth pole. Best time was 11 1/5 seconds.
The popularisation of gymnastics
In 1861 the first rifle associations were formed in Denmark with political and military purposes. And after the Danish defeat to Germany in 1864 the rifle associations became even more popular.
Different patterns of gymnastics occurred. One of the main groups focused on the strength of the body, exercise and performance of the individual.
The other main group was concentrated in the Danish cultural high school movement, which was more popular and inspired by the Swedish gymnastics focusing on games and team performances.
These two main directions of gymnastics, athletics and sport continued up through history. One branch is focusing on elite athletics, sport and competition. The other is focusing broadly on athletics and sport including public information of these and preferring meetings in games instead of competitions.