The Greeks placed such a high importance on physical training that no Greek city was without a
gymnasium.  This word comes from the Greek word gymnos ("unclothed") since all exercise at this facility was done in the nude.  Because of this, women were prevented from attending the gymnasium. 
          Certain areas of the gymnasium were reserved for particular sports:  running, jumping, wrestling.  There were special rooms for dressing and bathing.  (The gymnasium was the forerunner of the modern workout facility.)  Every Greek man was expected to keep in shape in case he was called up to the military. (War in Greece was almost constant.) Over the years, gymnasiums became more advanced, adding more equipment, sculptures, walkways, and secluded spots where discussion could take place.
Athlete, the Greek term for one who participates in physical contests, is still in use today.  The pentathlon
was a set of five sports that every athlete set out to master.  Running, the oldest sport of all, was the first.  The second was leaping (high jump, long jump, and jumping downward).  Sometimes long-jumpers held round pieces of iron (comparable to modern dumbbells), which they would sling with the momentum of their body to increase their distance.  The third and favorite sport was wrestling.  Finger-twisting, pushing, and choking were all allowed.  Before all gymnastic exercises the body was rubbed with oil to make the limbs supple, but before wrestling it was sprinkled with dust, partly to allow a firm hold and partly to prevent excessive sweat.  The fourth sport was the throwing of the discus, an event that has changed very little over time.  The fifth and final sport was the throwing of the javelin.  The dangerous sport of boxing, which was not included in the big five, was also popular. The four fingers of the combatants were bound together with cloth straps.  Many times the athletes would fit the strips with bits of hardened leather, nails, or leaden knobs.   All blows were aimed at the upper part of the body, head, and face.




Discobolus or "The Discus Thrower"