The French army always considered gymnastics as a significant physical activity. Before the 1st World War gymnastics is then used to strengthen and develop the human body through a number of physical exercises. By the end of the Second Empire gymnastics is additional to the military training.
From 1882, the education wants to promote in schools "school battalions." A lot of shooting companies unite only extend the idea of forming a good soldier.
The Normal School of Gymnastics Joinville: physical training center
The Normal School of Gymnastics Joinville opens on July 15th 1852 at the “Redoute de la Faisanderie” in the vast Camp of St Maur. Its goals are clear: train instructors to teach gymnastics as a fighter training.
April 1st 1872, the fencing Division newly created moved to a new location of the INSEP and the school takes the name “École Normale” of Gymnastics and Fencing.
The "George Law" of January 27th 1880 establishes the practice of gymnastics at primary school. France, having no specialized school for training teachers, Joinville supports this need for Education. The Certificate in the Teaching of Gymnastics (CAEG) issued by the school, allowed former soldiers to integrate a teaching school. Joinville had in fact, a real influence in the field of education.
Other sports established in Joinville in 1906: boxing, fencing, swimming, cycling. These sports are practiced only by officers who prefer to the austere gymnastics.
Reorganized in 1912, the school knows a productive period, but on August 1914 the Great War happened and the school had to close.
Deserted after the departure of managers and trainees, the school opened again on May 8th 1916 under the name of Physical Education Centre as the center of instruction and methods in physical education over 21 regional centers.
On July 1st 1919, the Normal School of Gymnastics and Fencing opens again and extends to several districts.
From June to July 1919, Joinville participated to the outbreak of competition such as the Inter Allied Games, a major event for the school and the French sport. The Allied forces decided to organize in France open games for the victorious armies. Americans built in three months a 35,000-seat stadium for the opening games. The proximity with Joinville led directly contact with this competition which pointed the American supremacy.