Gym

A gym, short for gymnasium, is an open air or covered location for gymnastics, athletics, and gymnastic services. The word is derived from the ancient Greek gymnasium. They are commonly found in athletic and fitness centers, and as activity and learning spaces in educational institutions. “Gym” is also slang for “fitness center”, which is often an indoor facility. Gymnasia apparatus such as bar-bells, parallel bars, jumping board, running path, tennis-balls, cricket field, fencing area, and so forth are used as exercises. In safe weather, outdoor locations are the most conducive to health. Gyms were popular in ancient Greece. Their curricula included Gymnastica militaria or self-defense, gymnastica medica, or physical therapy to help the sick and injured, and gymnastica athletica for physical fitness and sports, from boxing to dance. These gymnasia also had teachers of wisdom and philosophy. Community gymnastic events were done as part of the celebrations during various village festivals. In ancient Greece there was a phrase of contempt, “He can neither swim nor write.” After a while, however, Olympic athletes began training in buildings just for them. Community sports never became as popular among ancient Romans as it had among the ancient Greeks. Gyms were used more as a preparation for military service or spectator sports. During the Roman Empire, the gymnastic art was forgotten. In the Dark Ages there were sword fighting tournaments and of chivalry; and after gunpowder was invented sword fighting began to be replaced by the sport of fencing. There were schools of dagger fighting and wrestling and boxing.

Fitness retains an important social aspect as gyms and fitness products are prevalent in advertising and media. Gyms are popular as a social setting to meet people with a common interest in physical self improvement. Small talk sometimes consist of routine suggestions, music selections, supplement comparisons and dieting. Additionally, gyms employees often circulate and engage with patrons on the same topics, and assist newcomers with suggestions. Gym staff are trained not only in fitness but in social interaction.

Facilities and services

  • Main workout area

Most health clubs have a main workout area, which primarily consists of free weights including dumbbells, barbells and exercise machines. This area often includes mirrors so that exercisers can monitor and maintain correct posture during their workout. A gym that predominantly or exclusively consists of free weights (dumbbells and barbells), as opposed to exercise machines, is sometimes referred to as a black-iron gym, after the traditional color of weight plates.

  • Cardio area/Theatre

A cardio theater or cardio area includes many types of cardiovascular training-related equipment such as rowing machines, stationary exercise bikes, elliptical trainers and treadmills. These areas often include a number of audio-visual displays (either integrated into the equipment or placed on walls around the area itself) in order to keep exercisers entertained during long cardio workout sessions.

  • Group exercise classes

Most newer health clubs offer group exercise classes that are conducted by certified fitness instructors. Many types of group exercise classes exist, but generally these include classes based on aerobics, cycling (spinning), boxing or martial arts, high intensity training, step, regular and hot (Bikram) yoga, pilates, muscle training, and self-defense classes such as Krav Maga and Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Health clubs with swimming pools often offer aqua aerobics classes. The instructors often must gain certification in order to teach these classes and ensure participant safety.

  • Sports facilities

Some health clubs offer sports facilities such as a swimming pools, squash courts or boxing areas. In some cases, additional fees are charged for the use of these facilities.

  • Personal training

Most health clubs employ personal trainers who are accessible to members for training/fitness/nutrition/health advice and consultation. Personal trainers can devise a customized fitness routine, sometimes including a nutrition plan, to help clients achieve their goals. They can also monitor and train with members. More often than not, access to personal trainers involves an additional hourly fee.

  • Other services

Newer health clubs generally include health-shops, snack bars, restaurants, child-care facilities, member lounges and cafes. It is not unusual for a sauna, steam room, or swimming pool or wellness areas to be present. Health clubs generally charge a fee to allow visitors to use the equipment, courses, and other provided services. A fairly new trend is the advent of eco-friendly health clubs which incorporate principles of “green living” in its fitness regimen.