History of Gymnastics

Gymnastics is one of the oldest sports in the world. And the history of gymnastics is as colourful and exciting as the sport itself. Derived from the Greek word “gymnos,” which roughly means “training or exercising naked,” it was first introduced and practised in Greece in the 5th century BC to improve strength and agility that were necessary for combat. Gymnastics originally involved disciplinary exercises that combined physical skills like balance, coordination, flexibility, and strength with acrobatic skills in an artistic manner. And the same principle still applies to modern gymnastics exercises. Over time, it went beyond a military practice and became part of civilian life. It was also eventually included in the Greek Olympics, with ring activities, pommel horse, and floor exercises becoming a part of the competition. After Rome invaded Greece in the 2nd century BC, they adopted their gymnastics exercises and made them a part of their military training. The Romans were also responsible for spreading the practice to other parts of the ancient world and making it mainstream.

During the Dark Ages, gymnastics was almost lost to the world until its revival in the 16th-century renaissance. Due to the numerous health benefits they offered, gymnastics exercises began to be recognised and practised even more extensively than before. In the 19th century, German doctor Friedrich Ludwig Jahn, commonly referred to as the father of modern gymnastics, developed a series of exercises for young men and introduced the pommel horse, horizontal bar, parallel bar, balance beam, ladder, and vaulting horse. His techniques became so popular that they were later adopted by the US military to improve hand-to-hand combat skills.

In 1881, the Bureau of the European Gymnastics Federation was formed,  which later became the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG), the current international gymnastics governing body. Gymnastics then became an “organised sport” and was included in the first modern Olympic Games in 1896. It wasn’t until the 1956 Olympic games that gymnastics events for both men and women that we know of today were introduced as Artistic Gymnastics. Women competed in four events, namely Vault, Uneven Bars, Balance Beam, and the Floor Exercise. On the other hand, men competed in Floor Exercises, Parallel Bars, Horizontal Bar, Pommel Horse, Rings and Vault.

Throughout history, gymnastics has helped athletes become the best versions of themselves, both physically and mentally. And even though it has evolved drastically since its introduction, the basic principles behind it remain relevant and unchanged. At MK Springers, we welcome children and adults interested in learning this classic sport and improving their physical and mental fitness in the process. Contact us on 01908217788 to learn more about our sessions.

Written By: Ronnie Findlay on January 10, 2022
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