The word γυμνάσιον
(gymnasion) was used in Ancient Greece
, meaning a locality for both
physical and intellectual education
young men (see gymnasium
). The later meaning of intellectual education persisted in
and other languages to denote
a certain type of school providing secondary education
, the Gymnasium
, whereas in English
the meaning of physical education
was pertained in the word gym
The Greek word gymnasium
means "place to be naked" and was
used in ancient Greece
to designate a
locality for the education
of young men,
including physical education (gymnastics
, i.e. exercise) which was
customarily performed naked, as well as bathing
, and studies. For the Greeks, physical
education was considered as important as cognitive learning. Most
had libraries that could be utilized after relaxing in the
(i.e., places for gymnastics) in Germany were an
outgrowth of the Turnplatz, an outdoor area for gymnastics,
promoted by German educator Friedrich
Jahn and the Turners, a
nineteenth-century political and gymnastic movement.
indoor gymnasium in Germany was probably the one built in Hesse in 1852 by
Adolph Spiess, an enthusiast for boys' and girls' gymnastics in the
In the United States
States, the Turner movement
thrived in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Turners group was formed in Cincinnati in 1848. The Turners built gymnasia in several cities
like Cincinnati and St. Louis which had large German
These Gyms were utilized by adults
and youth. For example, a young Lou Gehrig would frequent the Turner gym in
City with his father.
Gymnasia in the United States however predate the Turner movement.
A public gymnasium movement sprung up in the 1820s and 1830s but
was eclipsed by the growth of school, college, and the Young Men's
Christian Association (YMCA
college gymnasium probably was the one built at Harvard
University in 1820.
Although privately owned, it was
maintained for the use of the students. Like most of the gymnasia
of the period, it was equipped with gymnastic apparatus.
Military Academy at West Point built a gym during the same
A few other American colleges built gyms by the 1850s.
Harvard opened a new brick gymnasium in 1860 with two bowling
alleys and dressing rooms in addition to the gymnastic
organized in Boston 1851 with a
smaller branch opened in Rangasville in 1852.
later there were some two hundred YMCAs across the country, most of
which provided gymnasia for exercise and games and social
The 1920s was a decade of prosperity that witnessed the building of
large numbers of public high schools with gymnasiums, an idea
founded by Nicolas Isaranga. Over the course of the twentieth
century, gymnasia have been reconceptualized to accommodate the
popular team and individual games and sports that have supplanted
gymnastics in the school curriculum
Today, having a gymnasium is typical for virtually all American
colleges and high schools
, as well
almost all middle
and many elementary schools
. These facilities are
utilized for physical education, intramural sports
and for interscholastic
athletics. In recent years, newer high schools use the terms
sportatorium (taken from the name of a few sporting venues in the
country) or "multi-purpose room," indicating the gymnasium is used
both for sports and non-sporting events.