Keeping Fit with the Phonograph

"Exercising to Music"


By Doug Boilesen 2022

One of the novel uses of the phonograph started in 1920 and it was based on making records which were physical exercise programs for the home set "to music."

Keep Fit with the "health building exercises now on phonograph records!" was the new message of their ads. At last "a way to get real enjoyment from exercise you need to keep fit."

In 1922 three companies in the U.S.A. were nationally advertising their exercise programs set to "music."

Walter Camp's "Daily Dozen" exercise records were being offered in 1921. In the January 15, 1922 issue of The Talking Machine World Camp's ad explained how this "popular new idea" would benefit the public for the health and enjoyment his records would bring and for the profit it would bring phonograph and record dealers.


Illustration from "Walter Camp's "DAILY DOZEN" ad in The Outlook


Wallace S. Rogerson, President of the Wallace Institute of Chicago, in the April 15, 1922 issue of The Talking Machine World, wanted to make sure that phonograph dealers and the world knew that he was the originator of this "music-method of physical exercise." The ad also noted that over 50,000 record sets had already been sold direct by mail-order and now dealers were getting stocked up on his records.


The Talking Machine World , April 15, 1922


Illustration from 1922 Ladies' Home Journal Wallace ad


The third competitor in 1922 promoting phonograph exercise records was Miss Susanna Cocroft. Cocroft published an ad in the same issue of The Ladies' Home Journal, April 15, 1922 in which the Wallace Records were being advertised and she was probably who Wallace was primarily referring to in warning dealers to "decline to handle any of the pitiful substitutes being offered."


Illustration from 1922 Susanna Cocroft ad


In 1922 all three of these record-using exercise programs included "Music" as a key part of their ads.

Camp's ads were "Keep Fit Walter Camp's Way -- to Music!"

Wallace's ads were "Get Thin - to music!"

Cocroft's ads said "Reduce or Increase Your Weight - to Music."


This gallery has six sections:

Who was First?

1922 Ads for Exercise "to Music" Records

1923 Ads and the Introduction of the Portable "Camp-Fone" Phonograph

Post 1923 - Camp, Rogerson and Cocroft

The Phonograph and Multi-format Examples of Exercising Programs "Recorded" for Home Use

HISTORY DETECTIVES - Fitness, Flappers and Phonograph Records


Who was First?

Walter Camp's "Daily Dozen" was an exercise program that was well-known for its use in the training of American soldiers for WWI. There are examples as early as 1921 of Camp and "Health Builders" advertising his program using records with 1921 copyrights.

Likewise, Susanne Cocroft had been an author and a promoter for women to "Be Well" since the beginning of the twentieth century but she didn't introduce her record and its music supported program until 1922.

The "first" of its kind, therefore, belongs to Wallace Rogerson's use of music for his exercise records with "Wallace" records having copyrights of 1920 and 1921 and his patent taken out on November 14, 1922.

According to Jim Middleton, a collector of 1920's Camp and Wallace exercise records who was interviewed on the PBS segment of the History Detectives episode about Wallace (see below), the "Wallace" exercise records were copyrighted as the first physical fitness records in 1920. Wallace’s first set of exercise records were pressed by the Columbia Phonograph Company and sold via mail order. (See Note The Notes: An Illustrated History of the Columbia Record Label 1901-1958 by Michael W. Sherman and Kurt Nauck, Monarch Record Enterprises, 1998, p. 56).


1920 Record Dictated by Wallace: Columbia Custom Catalog: No. 1 (91145-1/2)

See Discogs for other examples of Wallace Records.

"Camp’s record set, marketed by the Health Builders Company in New York, appeared almost immediately after Rogerson’s and sold by both mail order and in stores. The five records consisted of rousing band marches over which Camp shouted exercise commands." (1)

The following "Wallace" ad in The Pictorial Review of December 1920 is the earliest example in this Phonographia Gallery of a phonograph record set to music being advertised as part of an exercise program. This exercising record, according to Wallace S. Rogerson's ad, was designed to help women lose weight "at home with a talking machine!"


The Pictorial Review of December 1920


Wallace's Record with its respective 1st Lesson Instructions from the Wallace Set of Exercise Records, Copyright 1920. Reg. U.S. Pat. Office. (Courtesy Kenosha History Center - Women's Collection)



"Don't go to a gymnasium..." use the famous coach's "Exercises Now on Phonograph Records!" The Outlook, 1921(?).


September, 1921 (unknown magazine)


Walter Camp's New Way to Keep Fit, Manual with Instructions and Charts which accompanied records, 1921 (Courtesy


Wallace Ad to "reduce your weight at home - with your phonograph!" 1921 (Courtesy Period Paper)

Camp and Wallace would both have advertisements in August 1921 national magazines.


Walter Camp's New Way to Keep Fit, 1921 (Courtesy Period Paper)


Walter Camp Musical Health Builder - Reducing Exercises Record Lesson 1, Copyright 1921, Manufactured by the HEALTH BUILDERS, New York, 1922.


Walter Camp's Musical Health Builder - The "Daily Dozen" Advanced Lesson No. 9, Copyright 1921, Manufactured by the HEALTH BUILDERS, New York, 1922.


1922 Ads for Exercise "to Music" Records

The following are 1922 advertisements and ephemera for the exercising programs using records with music promoted by Walter Camp, Wallace Rogerson, and Susanna Cocroft. This would apparently be the only year that Cocroft nationally advertised her recorded exercise program.


"Walter Camp's "DAILY DOZEN" Exercises on Phonograph Records," The Talking Machine World, January 15, 1922.


Illustration from "Walter Camp's "DAILY DOZEN" ad in The Outlook



"Get Thin to Music" - Wallace

Wallace ad, Women's Home Companion, February, 1922 p. 65.


"Be Well..." -- Susanna Cocroft


Cocroft's "Be Well" ad but no phonograph record mentioned which would indicate Cocroft hadn't introduced records to her program yet), Women's Home Companion, February, 1922 p. 100.


"Miss Cocroft is a nationally recognized authority on conditioning women..." (but no mention of records), The Delineator, February, 1922 (Courtesy Michigan State University).


Cocroft ad (with or without music), 1922 p. 177


Susanna Cocroft Record Album cover photograph, copyrighted 1922 (Courtesy CSUN University Library)


"Keeping Fit to Music is Fun!," The Literary Digest for March 11, 1922.

"Walter Camp's "Daily Dozen," set to specially selected music on phonograph records..."


"Get Thin to Music"

In an article in Talking Machine World and in a four page promotional insert in the April 1922 edition of TMW the "Wallace reducing records" were said to be "scientifically sound" and any similiar records were to be considered "imitations which will all be prosecuted with vigor."

Walter Camp was surely considered a respected expert in physical exercise but Wallace seems to have considered his "music-method" to be proprietary. Cocroft, on the other hand, had just started her national advertising of her weight program "set to music on phonograph records" in 1922 (possibly March) and it's likely that Wallace was referring to Cocroft when he urged dealers to decline to handle the "pitiful substitutes being offered." Both Cocroft and Wallace had ads in The Ladies' Home Journal of April 1922.


The Talking Machine World , April 15, 1922

Four page insert in The Talking Machine World , April 15, 1922, pp. 19A - 19D




The Talking Machine World , April 15, 1922, p. 19D


Wallace ad, The Ladies' Home Journal, April, 1922 p. 57 (Courtesy University of Michigan)


Miss Susanna Cocroft ad, The Ladies' Home Journal, April, 1922 p. 155 quarter-page ad (Courtesy University of Michigan). This April ad seems to be one of the earliest examples of Cocroft offering a record for her "weigh what you should" program (i.e., reducing weight or increasing weight).


Wallace ad, The Ladies' Home Journal, May, 1922 p. 171


Wallace - "It's Easy to Get Thin -- To Music!" The Delineator, May, 1922 p. 55


Miss Susanna Cocroft ad, The Ladies' Home Journal, May, 1922 p. 49 half-page ad (Courtesy University of Michigan)


Miss Susanna Cocroft ad, The Ladies' Home Journal, June, 1922 p. 49, half-page ad (Courtesy University of Michigan).

Miss Susanna Cocroft ad, The Ladies' Home Journal, October, 1922 p. 147 quarter-page ad (Courtesy University of Michigan)


Miss Susanna Cocroft "Be Well" with phonograph record ad, The Ladies' Home Journal, November, 1922 p. 54, half-page ad (Courtesy University of Michigan).


Wallace ad, The Ladies' Home Journal, November, 1922 p. 121 (Courtesy University of Michigan).


Wallace ad, The Ladies' Home Journal, December, 1922 p. 155 (Courtesy University of Michigan).


Keep Fit. Walter Camp's Way -- to Music!

"Free Health Builder Record," American Magazine, 1922, p. 146


1923 Ads and the Introduction of the Portable "Camp-Fone" Phonograph

In 1923 the national competition of exercise programs set to music on talking machines became a two-person match between the records offered by Walter Camp and Wallace Rogerson. Cocroft had made a brief run for that market in the last half of 1922 but her experiment using the talking machine and its records for her 'program' ended in 1923. As historian Lynn Peril has written Crocroft's overall influence was in decline:

"Cocroft’s influence perhaps reached a zenith in the summer of 1918... Perhaps it was the failure of the Corps, or the death of her husband in 1923, or simply age (she turned 58 in 1920), but the wind seems to have gone out of Cocroft’s sails in the new decade." (2) Lynn Peril, iPlanet of Peril, July 8, 2017).

In contrast, Walter Camp's " Daily Dozen" talking machine records (made by "Health Builder, Inc.") were to get a boost in 1923 with Health Builder entering the talking machine field by introducing their own portable phonograph which they named the "Camp-Fone." Advertisements in April 1923 would point out that "The Camp-Fone appeals both to the Walter-Camp 'Fans," and to all outdoor camp enthusiasts, as well. Present owners require the Camp-Fone so that their daily exercises will not be interrupted when they go to the country."


The Talking Machine World, January 15, 1923


Announcement of the "Camp-Fone" by Health Builders, Inc. (makers of Walter Camp's "Daily Dozen" set to music record sets), The Talking Machine World, April 15, 1923, p. 73


The Camp-Fone for Walter Camp's "The Daily Dozen" set to music records, The Talking Machine World, April 15, 1923

The advertisement notes that besides appealing "to the Walter-Camp 'Fans" its small size and light weight make it "popular in the small apartment. Ideal for dancing, boatiing parties, picnics, auto trips, and general vacationing."


The Talking Machine World, July 15, 1923.

According to this July 15th article ten percent of the population of Athol, Mass. own Walter Camp's Health Builder exercise records. The trade magazine closed by noting this achievement is "a new high mark for energetic dealers to shoot at."


The Camp-Fone for Walter Camp's "The Daily Dozen" Health Builder Record Sets, The Talking Machine World, November 15, 1923



The Camp-Fone as a Winter Proposition, The Talking Machine World, December 15, 1923


Post 1923 - Camp, Rogerson and Cocroft

Walter Camp died unexpected of a heart attack in 1925. "Health Builders, Inc.," the company that made Camp's records and took over the copyright of "The Daily Dozen," continued promoting Camp's records, "The Daily Dozen" program and the "Camp-Fone."

Wallace Rogerson's exercise records and books continued to be popular and at the time of his death in 1943 his Chicago Tribune obituary noted that "millions of recordings have been distributed." He was involved with radio for many years and conducted the Chicago WGN radio program with its musical background "Keep Fit to Music."

Susanna Cocroft's brief experiment with the phonograph and her "reduce or increase your weight" management course "with or without records" appears to have essentially stopped in 1923.

Susanna Cocroft died on December 16, 1940.


The Phonograph and multi-format examples of exercising programs "recorded" for home use.

Exercise recordings would continue to be produced throughout the decades on 78's, LPs (33 1/3), 45 rpms, cassette tapes, Betamax tapes, VHS tapes, LaserDiscs, CEDs (RCA SelectaVision), CDs, DVDs, and streaming from the intranet (e.g., Roku, Amazon, YouTube, etc.).

FACTOLA: Jane Fonda has the most examples of different media formats for a recorded workout program (all of the above except 45 & 78 rpm).


Exercise Along with Debbie Drake, EPIC Monaural LN 24034, 1963 (FP1513)


Jane Fonda's Workout, LP, 1981 Columbia Records – CX2 38054 (double album) and Columbia Records – C 38054


Jane Fonda's Workout, Pioneer Artists LaserDisc, 1982


Jane Fonda's Workout, RCA SelectaVision VideoDiscs (CED), 1982


Jane Fonda's Workout, Karl Video, Betamax, 1982



Jane Fonda's Workout, Warner Home Video, VHS, 1982



Jane Fonda's Workout, Columbia (CBS) Cassette Tape, 1982


Jane Fonda's Complete Workout, Warner Bros. CD, 1989



Jane Fonda's Original Workout remastered for DVD, A Lightyear Entertainment Release, ©1982, 2014


LISTEN to Keep Fit Be Happy with Bonnie Prudden, Warner Bros. Records, WS 1358, 1959



1982 Mousercise Vinyl Record Album, Walt Disney Productions (FP1235)



Jazzercise Records, Verdelane Music 45 RPM, 1988 JR-001



The Jazzercise Workout, Parade Records, Cassette Tape, 1986 CLP-115 and LP PA-115


HISTORY DETECTIVES - Fitness, Flappers and Phonograph Records

For the story of Wallace Rogerson's exercise records being investigated as the first records of its kind WATCH PBS Season 9 Episode 9 of HISTORY DETECTIVES: Fitness, Flappers and Phonograph Records

The voice on these 78 rpm records is the grandfather our contributor never met. The 1920's albums play music with Wallace Rogerson giving exercise instructions. She asks HISTORY DETECTIVES host Tukufu Zuberi to tell her more about her grandfather. Was he the Jack LaLanne of the 1920s? - Promo for History Detectives, Aired on 9/5/2011 | 18m 3s.


The History Detectives' summary by host Tukufu Zuberi is that "in the mid-1930s Wallace extended his weight-reducing method to a Chicago radio program known by the "Get Thin to Music" slogan. After Wallace’s death in 1943, his records stayed in circulation at least until the 1950s, but were not nearly as well known as Camp’s and almost lost to history."

The transcript for this History Detectives episode can be downloaded from the PBS History Detectives page.



For an excellent article on Walter Camp and "The Daily Dozen" see "Walter Camp and the Daily Dozen: A Largely Forgotten Episode in the History of American Physical Culture" by Mickey Phillips and Jan Todd, The University of Texas at Austin, Volume 14, Number 4, Summer 2020, pp. 15-29 (Courtesy The

Poise and symmetry of figure, Susanna Cocroft, Headington Publishing Co., 1906; Growth In Silence, The Undertone Of Life, Susanna Cocroft, G. P. Putnams' Sons, 1917 and nine other titles are available to read on-line at HathiTrust -- all written before Cocroft published her "weight management with music" advertisement in 1922.