Spring 2022 · Torch: U.S. · EXERCISE & GAMES: PILA
EXERCISE & GAMES
by Emma Canga
NJCL EDITOR 2021-2022
EXERCISE & GAMES
The ancient Romans and Greeks commonly used “pilae” or “game balls” for exercise and sports. At the time, ball games were less of a passtime and more of a healthy activity people tried to incorporate into their daily routines. Surely, children used pilae for enjoyment, but the primary participants were young adults and adults striving for a healthier lifestyle. While both the ancient Greeks and Romans found pila to be of importance throughout the entirety of both of their empires, the ancient Greeks in particular praised those who were significantly skilled in using the pila, as the exercise highlighting an individual’s coordination and athleticism. There are even instances in Hellenic history where Athenians granted citizenship to men for extraordinary pila talent, namely Aristonicus of Carystus. Ancient societies trusted the health benefits of pila so much so that participating in a ball game became a popular prescription for illnesses.
The Spartans, famed for their military prowess and formidable soldiers, used the pila as a common exercise and training routine for young men entering the military. In both ancient Greek and Roman civilizations, pila had become such a significant part of their culture that every gymnasium and most baths, as it was common to exercise prior to bathing, had an area dedicated to pila. In some pila exercise areas in the gymnasium there were even coaches to help with proper training. Furthermore, in modern days most people listen to music while exercising and the ancient Greeks and Romans were no exception. It is thought that the ball game concept in general was a byproduct of a musical performance involving the tossing of
Spring 2022 · Torch: U.S. · SPRING PLANNING MEETING RECAP