Ancient Greece and it’s citizens is a fascinating society. Noteworthy, their appreciation of the human form was, and continues to be thought of by many – myself included – unparrelled.

Part I of my eBook series – Inventing Fitness,  – goes back 2500 years to the origins of physical fitness in Greece, it’s gymnasions, Olympic games, and the worlds first dumbbell.

“Within the ancient Greek society a fit body represented a fit mind. Exercise was no fad, but Civic duty and gymnasiums institutions of higher learning”

Foundation of Sport

Derived from the word gymnos, or greek for naked, the blueprint of the gymnasium seems to have taken shape somewhere within the 6th century BCE. Eventually all would follow the same basic floor plan with a large center courtyard of sand, surrounded by colonnades and lower lying buildings.

The ruins uncovered in Corinth show a massive space indicating it’s prominence. As the preemininent sport was wrestling, attached was a Palaestra, or wrestling school.

Gym life

No need to get your wallets out, these public buildings were funded by the state, and overseen by Gymnasiarchs. Today we call them General Managers, however, in antiquity they were much more and served in these positions with great honor. As a young boy progressed in age so did his level of training and education. Discipline was essential in the formauon of a future citizen, a soldier, a future leader.

Gym talk

In our 21st century clubs we tend to follow an unwritten rule of avoiding certain topics and conversations, and go about our routines keeping to ourselves. 2500 years ago after generations of legends, young men began to focus on logic, morals, and ethics. They came to discuss important matters and what was on their minds.


Around the world

  • Basque – Gymnasion
  • Danish – Gym
  • Dutch – Sportschool
  • French – Gym
  • German – Fitnessstudio
  • Italian – Palestra
  • Lithuanian – Sports sale
  • Portugese – Academia
  • Turkish – Jimnastik
  • Swahili – Mazoezi