The Early Years: Practice
At first, gymnastics was not required as it was at other women's colleges, although the gymnasium was open from 9 am to 10 pm daily with the expectation that the students perform their individually prescribed gymnastic exercises:
Before admission to the gymnasium each student must be examined by the Directress with reference to physical development, strength of heart and lungs, and hereditary tendencies. The exercises prescribed will be strictly individual, varying according to the physical development of the student; their effect will be tested by half-yearly examinations, and great pains will be taken to prevent any over-exertion1.
By the 1895-1896 school year, however, the gymnasium was open from 4 pm to 6 pm for required gymnastics classes and 8 pm to 10 pm for individual practice; most students had not taken to regular gymnastic exercise enthusiastically, and would not practice regularly of their own accord2.
1. "Hygiene." Bryn Mawr College Program, 1886-1887. Philadelphia, Sherman & Co., 1886, pp. 40.
2. "Physical Training." Annual Report of the President of Bryn Mawr College, 1895-1896. Philadelphia, Alfred J. Ferris, 1897, pp. 92.