Titanic's gymnasium was accessible from the boat desk, adjacent to the second funnel. It was outfitted with elaborate equipment, especially during an era in which exercise was more of a hobby, or a quaint way to pass some time.

It would seem that prior to sail, it was open for exploration by both genders and other classes of passengers. But once Titanic departed Queenstown, it was a first-class exclusive, and was used separately by ladies and gentlemen.

The gym was the domain of Thomas McCawley, a spry moustache master always seen at his post, and always wearing his white flannels and plimsolls (canvas athletic shoes), the primmest and dapperest Edwardian fitness instructor you could ever imagine.

Colorized version of photo of Titanic's gymnasium, taken by Robert John Welch for Harland & Wolff.


The gym was available for a shilling a ticket, which would be paid, of course, to Chief Purser Hugh McElroy prior to use, and would be good for one session.

The gym was exclusive to the ladies from 9am to noon, children 1pm to 3pm, and the men 2pm to 6pm. Tom McCawley was said to be precise to the minute in opening the gym for these scheduled shifts.

The gymnasium was equipped with punching bags, Indian clubs, stationary bicycles with giant red meters for monitoring one's progress, a rowing machine, and mechanical horses. It was also installed with an "electric camel", which mimicked the back-and-forth motion of a camel ride when sat upon, and which was lauded as "good for the liver."

Lawrence Beesley, a second-class passenger, on the stationary bicycles with an unnamed friend. originally published in London Illustrated News, April 20, 1912.


There was a racquetball court presided over by instructor Frederick Wright on G Deck with an entrance on D Deck, and an observation gallery on F Deck. That would set you back two shillings for one half-hour of play.

Titanic also boasted Turkish baths, which offered massages, shampoos, and electric baths. The central feature was the Cool Room, and it was decorated in a lavish Arabic style--all teak wood, green and blue tiles, a marble fountain, and a scarlet ceiling with guilded beams and hanging lanterns. It was littered with lounges, folding chairs, and Damascus tables.

In 2005, they rediscovered the Cool Room in a remarkably preserved state. Because it had flooded early on, and its location was deeper inside the ship, it was largely protected from damage when the bow crashed into the seabed. And because it's so far within the ship, hungry microorganisms can't really get at it, so the woodwork, stained glass windows, and even the recliners are still recognizable.

Illustration of the Cool Room of the Turkish Baths on R.M.S. Olympic, which was Titanic's elder sister.


To most people, the most delightfully ironic of Titanic's fitness features was a heated saltwater swimming pool, (or "bath," as they referred to it).

It was 30x14ish feet and was tiled in blue and white. It also had a marble staircase descending into the water; this was because the water was 3 feet below the lip of the pool, to try to prevent water from sloshing out with the motion of the ship. There were shower stalls and changing cubicles along its side.

Swimming pool of the R.M.S. Olympic, which can be discerned from Titanic's due to the presence of a diving board.


The swimming bath was open only to First Class, of course; the use of a swimming suit was included in the fee of a shilling.

It was the second of its kind ever put to sea; the first was that of RMS Olympic, and the only notable difference between it and Titanic's was that Olympic's swimming bath had a diving board, while Titanic's was absent of the same. This was decided upon because the sloshy water made the diving end shallower than it appeared, and it caused a hazard to passengers.

First-Class survivor Colonel Archibald Gracie used the swimming bath to his great enjoyment. He took a refreshing swim on the morning of April 14, 1912--and later mused upon the irony of the same, stating he probably wouldn't have enjoyed it so much if he had known the next swim he was about to take.

Archibald Gracie IV, Titanic survivor who used the swimming bath on April 14, 1912.


The swimming bath was across the hall from the Turkish baths, but within the wreck, it is blocked by a watertight door. Given the relatively immaculate state of the Turkish baths, it is assumed the pool is in similarly excellent shape.

The gymnasium was a central location during the sinking; many people who rushed to the boat deck found themselves too cold while waiting for lifeboats, and crowded into the gymnasium for warmth.

It was here that John Jacob Astor was witnessed slitting open a life-vest with his penknife, to reassure his young wife about the buoyancy of cork. A few passengers peddled on the stationary bikes to keep warm.

And the entire time, Mr. McCawley manned his post. When asked about a life-vest, he declined to wear one; he insisted it would inhibit his swimming once the ship went down.

Thomas McCawley died in the sinking. He was 36 years old.



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