by Carlo Ratti
When Friedrich Ludwig Jahn, arguably the “father of gymnastics” and the inventor of the horizontal and parallel bars, opened his first gym (or Turnplatz) in 1811, he decided to locate it outdoors in Berlin.
At the time – and for thousands of years beforehand – physical exercise was primarily an open-air activity. Only in the 20th century did the gym begin to be relegated indoors, due to the increased regimentation of physical activity and the need to compare results with peers.
But could today’s digital technologies, which enable us to measure our physical exercise in everyday life, challenge the models of the last century? Could cities again be transformed into open-air gyms?