Who invented the gym & when did they do it?


6th Century BC

The ancient Greeks invent (a basic form) of the dumbbell called a haltere. Halteres were made of stone or metal, and weighed between 2 kg and 9 kg. They served multiple uses from training to competition. Ancient Greek records shows the evidence of the halteres dating to as far back as 700 BC. By the 5th Century BC, halteres were of common use in Ancient Greek training regimes. Popularity of the halteres grew globally as by the 2nd Century BC, famous Greek physician, Galen, came up with a variety of exercises that required the use of halteres. Galen insisted halteres as a necessity for physical fitness as it trained the body for war. In his book Description Of Greece, Greek geographer Pausanias defined halteres as “half of a circle, but elliptical and made so that the fingers pass through as they do through the handle of a shield.



The term “kettlebell” is first used, in Russian. Kettlebell exercises were later popularized in the late 1800s by a Russian Vladislav Kraevsky.

Vladislav Kraevsky
Vladislav Kraevsky


The Gymnasticon, an early exercise machine resembling a stationary bicycle, was invented by Francis Lowndes. Its function was to exercise the joints, either “in all parts of the body at once, or partially.

Gymnasticon was patented in 1796.


William Cubitt, a civil engineer, created the treadmill—which was also called a treadwheel in the early days. Cubitt later became famous for overseeing the construction of The Crystal Palace in London in 1851. Treadmills were initially used as punishment devices in British prisons – by 1842 more than half of British prisons had one. The likes of Oscar Wilde, imprisoned for gross indecency, worked the treadmill.


Creatine is discovered by the noted French scientist, Michel Eugene Chevreul, who extracted it from meat.

Michel Eugène Chevreul


Protein was discovered by Jöns Jakob Berzelius. Named from the Greek word ‘protas’ meaning ‘of primary importance’. Berzelius is also credited with discovering the chemical elements cerium and selenium and with being the first to isolate silicon and thorium. Additionally Berzelius is credited with originating the chemical terms “catalysis”, “polymer,” “isomer,” and “allotrope.” 

Jöns Jakob Berzelius
Jöns Jakob Berzelius


Hippolyte Triat opens the world’s first commercial gym in Brussels, Belgium.

Hippolyte Triat


The Boston Young Men’s Christian Union becomes the first gym in America.

Boston Young Men's Christian Union Boston
Boston Young Men’s Christian Union Boston


William B. Curtis invented the Curtis rowing machine, the first piece of cardio gym equipment for indoor training.

Curtis rowing machine


Gustav Gossweiler patents the first product similar to today’s resistance bands in Switzerland. He would take one out in the United States the following year.

Gustav Gossweiler


DOMS was first described in 1902 by Theodore Hough, who concluded that this kind of soreness is “fundamentally the result of ruptures within the muscle”.

Theodore Hough


Harvard University researchers Otto Folin and Willey Glover Denis show that ingesting creatine can dramatically boost the creatine content of the muscle.

Otto Folin


Phosphocreatine is discovered.


Constantine “Cus” D’Amato opens the Empire Sporting Club at the Gramercy Gym.

Empire Sporting Club at the Gramercy Gym


Irvin Johnson, developed the first dissolvable protein – “Johnson’s Hi Protein Food”.


Erling Asmussen first introduced eccentric training in his April 1953 paper “Positive and Negative Muscular Work” as “excentric”, with ex meaning “away from” and centric meaning “center”. Hence, the term was coined to mean a muscle contraction that moves away from the center of the muscle.

August 25, 1965

Gold’s Gym, Venice Beach launches.


First electronic treadmill is produced by Woodway.

November 1, 1984

LA Fitness is founded.

LA Fitness


Sarcopenia (a progressive and generalised skeletal muscle disorder involving the accelerated loss of muscle mass and function that is associated with increased adverse outcomes including falls, functional decline, frailty, and mortality) is coined sarcopenia because of the dramatic increase in incidence and prevalence brought about by the demographic changes of the 20th century.



Linford Christie, Sally Gunnell & Colin Jackson are all named in press reports as users of creatine supplementation.


Planet Fitness is founded.

Planet Fitness


In the ten years leading up to the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games over 37 million square feet of outdoor gymnasiums were built across China.


Virgin Active is founded. The first club opened in Preston, Lancashire. There are today 43 locations in the UK with more than half of the company’s 237 gyms being located in South Africa (133).


PureGym is founded. It claims 1,000,000 UK members and, again claims, to be the UK’s biggest gym chain.


The UK has 7,239 gyms with 10,390,000 gym members. The UK gym industry employs 189,000 people, of which 62,000 are fitness instructors.


There are now an estimated 205,176 gyms in the world with 184,608,505 members globally. That’s 1 in 40 people on earth.

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