The Gym

Some of you might go to the gym regularly, to keep fit. Good for you, if you do. You might know that gym is short for gymnasium, which would be quite a long word to say all the time, so the abbreviation makes sense.

You may also be aware that the word gymnasium is also used to refer to secondary schools in continental Europe which provided advanced academic education, usually as preparation for university.

At first glance such a gymnasium might seem a completely different institution than your local gym, but both do share the idea of training and exercising: one for the body and one for the mind.

If you take a look back at the original Ancient Greek gymnasiums though, it makes sense that we use the same word for both places, considering that they did focus on developing both the body and the mind. What would probably surprise you about them though, is the nudity.

Yes, people trained naked, as a way to appreciate the male form and to pay tribute to the gods. And probably because it got quite hot in the summer. The Ancient Greeks were quite serious about their nudity, as this is in fact where the word gymnasium comes from: the Greek word gymnós, meaning naked.

Consider yourself lucky that you don’t have to go to the gym naked anymore. Or, depending on who frequents your gym, that others have to wear clothes!

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