Ok, I have a problem. I think I’m a poly-gymnasiast. I’ve tried commercial gyms such as LA Fitness and 24 Hour Fitness, health clubs such as the New York Sports Club and even University gyms at UCLA and NYU. I’ve always thought they’ve been around forever and never really thought twice about how they originated, from where and when. So without further adieu, here are 10 things I never knew about gyms:
(1) The term gym was originally derived from Ancient Greece with their use of the word γυμνάσιον (gymnasion). This word was used to describe a place for both physical and intellectual education.
(Photo via Patrick Hoesley)
(2) Back in Ancient Greece, physical education was deemed just as important as intellectual education and therefore the gym housed both an area for exercises as well as a library. It’s interesting to think that today most gyms focus solely on physical education (if that), instead of a place for intellectual and even creative stimulation (check out our post for 4 Healthy Habits for Highly Creative People).
(3) In the early 19th century, the term gymnasia were used to describe German outdoor facilities used to teach gymnastics.
(4) In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Germans helped open and promote the first gyms in Cincinnati and St. Louis.
(Photo via Waterloo Library)
(5) The first YMCA was opened in Boston in 1851. Within 10 years the YMCA had grown to about 200 facilities across the nation.
(Photo via eagle102.net)
(6) The 1920s saw even larger growth of indoor gyms as elementary, middle and high schools began integrating physical education within their curricula. Unfortunately, this trend has been declining in the past several years as federal cuts have decreased funding for physical education programs. As a result, currently there are only 5 states that support and require physical education from kindergarten through 12th grade.
(7) Nine out of the top ten largest high school gymnasiums in the United States are in Indiana (the largest gym seats up to 9300 spectators – aka The Largest Venue for Awkward High School Proms).
(8) In the 1930s, boxing gyms were popularized and promoted exercise and sparring training for boxers and fighters.
(9) The 1970s saw the rise of chain gyms such as Gold’s Gym. The first Gold’s Gym was opened in 1965 in Venice Beach, California. And hence, saw the growth of beach body builders and the face of Southern California beaches were never the same.
(Photo via Roberto Verzo)
(10) American gyms are a $700 million industry and it is estimated that 12% of Americans go to the gym regularly.
So there you have it. Originally used to provide both physical and intellectual education for young Greeks, to teaching gymnastics in Germany to finally expanding to the hundred million dollar industry it is today in the United States.
Featured Photo via CherryPoint