An excerpt from a piece in the Orlando Sentinel on the history of gymnasia:

A lot of information is available on the subject. For example, did you know the word gym, short for gymnasium, goes back to the Greek gymnos, for naked?

In the South, we usually pronounce that "nekkid," an even more revealing condition for cellulite than a bikini.

The Greeks, which really means Greek men in this case, apparently exercised in the buff, according to an essay by University of Oregon historian Ian McNeely.

They also linked a healthy body to a keen mind.

"What we now regard as centers of Greek higher learning originated, in many cases, as appendages of exercise facilities," McNeely says.

In other words, there was "no divide between geeks and jocks."

When modern education was taking shape about 200 years ago, folks looked to the ancient Greeks for inspiration, without the naked part.

McNeely credits a German schoolteacher named Friedrich Ludwig Jahn for inspiring much of modern exercise and gymnastics. Humiliated by the Germans' defeat by Napoleon in 1806, "Jahn concluded that nothing less than a massive dose of manly vigor would redeem his countrymen."

German intellectuals and teachers who immigrated to the United States later in the 1800s brought with them systems of exercise, shaped by romanticized views of the ancient Greeks, and those systems had a great effect on how exercise was taught at schools and colleges in this country.

That may be why Rollins College Archives has photos of young men and women in posture classes about 1890, dressed in Greek costumes and striking statuesque poses.

In a departure from the old Greek system, physical education was by this time not seen solely as a male domain.