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This History of Gym Class

September 25, 2019 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

The History of Gym Class

 Wednesday, September 25rd, 2019.  7:00 pm.  Free.

Keene Family YMCA

200 Summit Road, Keene.


Rebecca Noel explores the sometimes alarming, sometimes hilarious backstory of what we now know as gym class. Physicians have worried since the Renaissance that the sedentary, scholarly life makes people sick. They focused on varying concerns over time: digestive woes, melancholy, tuberculosis, spinal curvature, reproductive weakness. The problems increased with access to education during the Enlightenment and into the 1800s. Tracing this idea from Europe to the United States, from scholars to children, and from boys’ to girls’ education, the presentation shows how these fears inspired schools to get children moving. The (optional) interactive aspects of the presentation will include audience testing of historic exercise schemes, some done in pairs. The program concludes with audience discussion of the relevance of this problem to our own times—like the Enlightenment, a moment in history when many more people live the sedentary lives once limited to a few scholars.

This free public event is sponsored by New Hampshire Humanities.

Photo information: Girls’ Calisthenics class at Woodrow Wilson High, Washington, DC, 1943




September 25, 2019
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Event Category:
Event Tags:


Historical Society of Cheshire County
Keene Family YMCA
NH Humanities


Keene Family YMCA
200 Summit Road
Keene, NH 03431
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