The Story Of Your Gym

September 24, 2018


Do you exercise at a gym? If you do have you ever wondered about the history of your gym or about the history of all gyms? How did gyms come to be and why were there ever gyms in the first place? Well it is quite a story. Here is a quick look at gym history. It may surprise you.


The ancient Greeks invented gyms. In Greek the word gym means “school for naked exercise.” The Greeks loved the form of a well muscled body, but they saw a deeper meaning in the sweat. Greek gyms were aimed at training young men to embody the highest ideals of Greek virtue. The ancient Greeks believed in the harmony between energy and initiative. In fact Aristotle founded his school of philosophy in the Lyceum, a gymnasium that included physical training.


Some of the Greek idealism was passed on to the Romans, but after the fall of Rome and the dark ages little was heard of the gyms until the mid 19th century when two of the first commercial gyms were opened in Brussels and Paris by Hippolyte Paris, a retired circus strongman.


By the mid-20th century Americans had many choices when looking for a gym.Today more than 57 million Americans belong to health clubs. Unfortunately our modern gyms remain only a shadow of the original Greek ideal.  It is wonderful that so many people are getting more constructive physical exercise, but where is the spirit of the Greek ideal? In order to get on the path to better health and wellness it is necessary to balance the mental energies of the body with the physical energies. This is the message of our wellness books and it is certainly the Greek ideal. I propose that there needs to be more emphasis on putting a sound mind into that sound body. 


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Dr. Sanford L. Severin

Dr. Todd D. Severin

San Ramon, CA 94582 USA

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© 2020 by Sanford Severin, MD