Who Invented Gymnastics?

By Brittany Rogers

Gymnastics

Gymnastics is a sport practiced all over the world. It takes place in many competitions, including the Olympic Games, The Pan American Games, and the Commonwealth Games. If you are one of many fans of gymnastics, you should know that both men and women compete. Gymnastics involves the performance of exercises requiring power, flexibility, physical strength, coordination, agility, grace, balance and control. Routines performed on the various apparatuses, including Vault, Uneven Bars, Balance Beam, Rings, Pommel Horse, and the Floor Exercise require gymnasts to possess a wide range of abilities and skills.

Greeks

Some experts believe that the sport of gymnastics is thousands of years old. In fact, some historians believe its roots may go back over 4,000 years! They think gymnastics likely evolved from exercises the ancient Greeks developed to improve skills for the mounting and dismounting of horses. In ancient Greece, gymnastics encompassed many forms of athletic activity. This included running, wrestling and physical fitness routines. Each city had a gymnasium where these exercises took place. Gymnastics also included discus throwing, and hand to hand fighting. It wasn’t so much a sport yet as it was a fitness training program. In 1569, Girolamo Mercuriale, an Italian philogist and physician, who received his doctorate in 1555, wrote Le Arte Gymnastica, which brought together his study of the attitudes of the ancient Greeks toward diet, exercise and hygiene, and the use of natural methods for the cure of disease. He was later asked to occupy the Chair of Medicine in 1569. Le Arte Gymnastica also explained the principles of physical therapy and is considered the first book on sports medicine. In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century Germany, two pioneer physical educators, Johann Friedrich GutsMuths and Friedrich Ludwig Jahn created exercises for boys and young men on apparatus they had designed that ultimately led to what is considered modern gymnastics.

Game on!

Nowadays, the sport of Gymnastics has set in stone rules, and is ruled by the governing body called Federation of International Gymnastics, which was created in 1881. The federation draws up the rules, known as the Code of Points. This is technically a rule book which regulate how gymnasts performances are evaluated. Six gymnastics disciplines are governed by the FIG. The multiple disciplines include Artistic gymnastics (Men's, and Women's), Rhythmic gymnastics, Aerobic gymnastics, Acrobatic gymnastics and Trampolining. By 1954, Olympic Games events for both men and women had been standardized in a modern and agreed upon format, with uniform grading structures, including a point system from 1 to 15. Men compete on 6 events: Vault, Parallel Bars, Horizontal Bar, Pommel Horse, Floor Exercise and Rings. Women compete on 4: Vault, Uneven Bars, Balance Beam, and Floor Exercise. Scores in gymnastics start with a base score , from which points are subtracted from 10.0. Based upon the difficulty of the routine, points are added to a different score, with harder skills giving you more bonus. Based on how many mistakes are made, the overall artistry of the performance, and the difficulty level, both of those scores would be added up to make a final score. There is no longer a "perfect 10" scoring system in FIG Gymnastics. However at the collegiate, the perfect 10 still exists.

Try it Out!

Can you do gymnastics? Sure, you might not be able to do multiple flips on the uneven bars, but I bet you can do some basic gymnastics moves. Find a friend or family member and warm up by doing some basic stretching. Once you feel warm and ready to go, try to do a few basic gymnastics moves, such as handstands or splits. Can you do it? If you need some help, check out this great website called Learning Gymnastics for a few helpful tips. After trying a few basic moves, you might have a new appreciation for the difficulty level of gymnastics!
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Think you are too old to try gymnastics? Think again! The oldest gymnast at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, England, was 37 years old, AND she had a child! Crazy! This is a great resources of Reasons Why adults should do gymnastics, as well as some tips and tricks for beginners.
Do you enjoy watching gymnastics competitions whenever the Olympics roll around? Gymnastics is a very popular sport, and is highly watched when the Olympics are taking place. Collegiate Gymnastics is also very popular in the United States. What memories do you have of famous gymnasts from past Olympics? Do names like Mary Lou Retton, Nastia Liukin, Shannon Miller and Gabby Douglas ring a bell? If not, look them up online by visiting Youtube. You’re sure to find videos of their famous and inspiring performances, as well as their stories behind their adversity of being a high level gymnast.