Athletics & Well-Being

We Don’t Just Play Sports. We Invented Them.

Where Basketball Began

How do you keep young men healthy, active—and out of trouble? Answer: invent new sports.

In 1891, Dr. Luther Gulick, director at the International YMCA Training School in Massachusetts, instructed PE teacher James Naismith to come up with a new indoor winter game. Today, basketball is second only to soccer as the most popular sport in the world.

Health First

In addition to providing fitness and athletic training, the YMCA is also a leader in programs that help individuals and families prevent and manage chronic diseases such as arthritis, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, and Parkinson’s Disease.

1885 exercise class at YMCA Honolulu. The term “bodybuilding” was first used in 1881 by the Y, and later developed into exercise classes and then fitness workouts. 
Tommy Kono, the world’s greatest Olympic weightlifter. While actively competing, he moved to Hawai‘i in 1955 and joined the Nu‘uanu YMCA to train and volunteer. Among his accomplishments, Kono set 26 world records, earned 3 Olympic medals and 4 Mr. Universe titles. In his later years, Kono continued coaching weightlifters of all levels and celebrated his 85th birthday at Nu‘uanu YMCA before he passed.
YMCA of the USA has local roots. Dr. Luther Gulick was born in Honolulu and graduated from Oahu College (now Punahou School). He went on to have a hand in the invention of basketball and volleyball, and revolutionized the Y’s approach to health and fitness with the idea that well- being depends on a unity of spirit, mind and body. His red “spirit, mind and body” YMCA triangle was adopted in 1891.
The YMCA Diabetes Prevention Program prevents Type 2 Diabetes cases by 58% for adults and 71% in adults over 60. The program is covered by Medicare and several local health insurance providers.

Aquatics ➔