Before women broke a sweat at the gym . . .

They signed up for “body conditioning” courses at discreetly named places like the American Women’s Club, as seen in this ad from the November 25, 1939 Brooklyn edition of Cue magazine.


353 West 57th Street is now the Hudson Hotel, a glammed-up version of the 1929 building that originally housed the American Woman’s Association. This organization was started by Anne Morgan, daughter of financier J.P. Morgan, to advance the cause of working women. 

The swimming pool, badminton courts, and “scientific massages” didn’t exactly draw them in; the organization gave up the building in 1941.

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2 Responses to “Before women broke a sweat at the gym . . .”

  1. Green daisy Says:

    Was this building also a YMCA?

  2. Steve Smith Says:

    As a kid use to live a 357 W.57th in the early 1970’s and used to have a monthly membership at what was called “The Henry Hudson Hotel.” The Olympic sized pool and gym that were in the basement must have been for the women’s club. I swam there twice a week. The YWCA on 57th was located directly across from our building at 315 on the even numbered side of the street. It burned down in a huge fire around 1973. We watched it burn from our 8th floor window. I have pictures of the fireman on the lift almost six stories up over 57th.

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