When the Elites Began Going to the Gym: The Professional and Social Spaces of the First Hygienic Gymnasiums in Madrid, 1860–69

Xavier Torrebadella-Flix, Antonio Rivero-Herraiz, Raúl Sánchez-García*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In order to analyse the origins of modern gyms in Spain, it is crucial to look to the mid-nineteenth century, focusing particularly on those cities that experienced the greatest urban and economic growth. These cities witnessed the creation of new spaces related to the different gymnastic disciplines (artistic, medical, orthopaedic, recreational, hygienic, and pedagogical). A few primitive gymnasiums governed by empiricist experts in gymnastics (empíricos gimnasiarcas), which, under the medical supervision of doctors, promised to cure all manner of afflictions, sprang up. Many of these edifices sprang up in Madrid during the period 1860–1869, a decade that marked a defining moment in the origins of modern Spanish gymnastics. An analysis of the technical-professional and social spaces in which these exercises took place, the so-called hygienic gymnasium, reveals that these gymnasiums were an important meeting point for social and moral reformers among Spain’s elite classes.

Original languageAmerican English
JournalInternational Journal of the History of Sport
Volume36
Issue number15-16
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Keywords

  • acrobatic gymnastics
  • Gymnasium
  • hygienic gymnastics
  • medical gymnastics
  • orthopaedic gymnastics

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