446 IDEAL HOME LIFE
when boys reach the age of fourteen or fifteen. As a rule, also, boys at this age are particularly interested in this class of work. It will be useful not only for the shorter and more sturdy types, to whom gymnastics will naturally come easy, but also as a developmental influence for the slender and less
robust types. In the same way the girls can profit greatly by this gymnasium work, though it would be well for them to confine themselves to the less extreme types of exercise. In other words, they will do better to use the vaulting horse and parallel bars a great deal, rather than an excessive amount of work on the horizontal bars and rings. They may do the less strenuous class of work even on these, too, but they are not physically equipped for the more exacting "stunts" that trained male gymnasts are accustomed to display. The boys who are rather undeveloped, or long and lanky, with a seeming excess of elbows, knees and pedal extremities, would do well to take up this very apparatus work to overcome their awkwardness and give them coordination, but they should do it gradually rather than to plunge into it too hard at first. They will very quickly acquire the strength and ability to enjoy the gymnasium. I must say that the Y. M. C. A. is a magnificent institution for the boys at this time of life, through the splendid gymnasiums placed at their disposal all over the country at very little expense.
In view of the increasing vogue of athletics, some special comments on this subject will be pertinent. I am afraid that most young people do not realize the need of special preliminary training and a perfected bodily development as the basis for success in this field. There is much truth in the old saying that we learn to do by doing, but this is not altogether true in athletics. Nothing can take the place of special exercises for strengthening each individual part of the body and thus making it capable of standing any strain that may be put upon it. In athletics each part should be in a condition to stand the strain in such a way that it will not be any strain at all, because of the perfect fitness of the body. The athlete who specializes can do much better in his specialty if he is a good all-around man, and has not a single weak point.