Keeping fit – Roman style

A newly-revealed section of the Roman Baths, one of the most visited heritage attractions in the UK, will open on Friday 22 October 2021.

Never seen before by the public, the area includes a Roman Gym and a Laconicum (a type of sauna), which will be brought to life by exciting projections and interpretation.

The Roman Gym is located next to the Great Bath and will be included in the cost of the general admission ticket.

In the Roman Gym visitors will be able to:

  • Learn how Romans kept fit and healthy.
  • Explore the ancient exercise yard where Romans would have worked out and learn about their fitness routines.
  • Visit the remains of the Laconicum (a Roman sauna or steam room), a circular room which would have been warmed by underfloor heating. Ten minutes in here would have been enough!
  • Walk through the remains of one of the most complete Roman doorways in Britain.
  • See projections of Romans and the exercises they would have done in the gym, including Trigon (a Roman ball game), Halteres (a type of dumb-bell used in the Roman’s version of the long-jump), wrestling and weightlifting.
  • Learn about Roman medicine. Roman doctors practiced in Aquae Sulis, the Roman town of Bath. Roman medicine was centred around the belief that there were four humours in the body and to be healthy you needed a proper balance between them. If there was an imbalance, then solutions included herbal remedies or letting of bad blood. For some conditions, surgery was needed and some of the implements found in a Roman surgeon’s bag were very similar to instruments still in use today.

Councillor Dine Romero, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, Communities and Culture at Bath & North East Somerset Council, said: “The Roman Gym is a great new addition to the award-winning Roman Baths experience. For the first time, visitors will be able to walk into the Roman exercise yard, find out how the Romans kept fit and see one of the few remaining Roman laconica. We’re really looking forward to opening the Roman Gym to our visitors.”

Stephen Clews, Roman Baths & Pump Room Manager, added: “This is a significant addition to what you can see at the Roman Baths, telling the story of an important activity in larger bath houses like the one here in Bath. Romans died at earlier ages than we are used to today, so they were very conscious of the importance of keeping fit and healthy even if, like people today, they didn’t always achieve it.”

The Roman Gym is part of the National Lottery Heritage Fund-supported Archway Project, which will soon see the opening of a new World Heritage Centre celebrating the city’s status as a double-nominated World Heritage Site, and a Roman Baths Clore Learning Centre creating exciting new learning opportunities for schools and community groups at the Roman Baths.

The Roman Baths is one of the finest ancient sites in Northern Europe. The complex consists of the remarkably preserved remains of one of the greatest religious spas of the ancient world. The city’s unique thermal springs rise at the heart of the site and the Baths still flow with natural hot water. Visitors can explore the Roman Baths, walk on the original Roman pavements and see the ruins of the Temple of Sulis Minerva. The museum collection includes a gilt bronze head of the Goddess Sulis Minerva, and other Roman artefacts.