A Little History
Gymnastics is a sport involving the performance of exercises requiring physical strength, flexibility, agility, coordination, and balance. Exercises of the ancient Greeks began with athletic feats performed by each individual according to his own notion.
The youth were encouraged to combine amusement with exercise. In time, this kind of exercise was incorporated into a system that figured prominently in the state regulations for education. All Greek cities had a gymnasium, a courtyard for jumping, running, and wrestling. As the Roman Empire ascended, the Greek gymnastics gave way to gymnastics whose purpose was military training.
In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century Germany, three pioneer physical educators – Johann Friedrich GutsMuths (1759–1839) and Friedrich Ludwig Jahn (1778–1852) – created exercises for boys and young men on apparatus they had designed that ultimately led to what is considered modern gymnastics.
Artistic gymnastics is usually divided into Men’s and Women’s Gymnastics. Typically men compete on six events: Floor Exercise, Pommel Horse, Still Rings, Vault, Parallel Bars, and High Bar, while women compete on four: Vault, Uneven Bars, Balance Beam, and Floor Exercise. The Federation of International Gymnastics (FIG) was founded in Liege in 1881. By the end of the nineteenth century, men’s gymnastics competition was popular enough to be included in the first “modern” Olympic Games in 1896 and since then it has been contested at every Summer Olympic Games.
Participation in gymnastics helps children become physically active, and stay fit and healthy. Taking part in any exercise significantly reduces the risk of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes in adulthood as the habits learned as a child are often carried through to adulthood. Regular participation in gymnastics can teach children how to live a healthy lifestyle, and remain involved in the sport as they grow up.
Partaking in gymnastics can help children sleep better, and equip them with skills to better handle physical and emotional challenges in life. Attending a regular gymnastics class provides young children with the opportunity to communicate with people their own age, work within a team, and engage with adults. Gymnastics gives children an opportunity to learn about social skills like listening, following directions and respecting others. Children also have fun, meet new friends, and learn independence. Positive experiences in gymnastics can build confidence through achievement, and illustrates to children that commitment to sport benefits them. Rules and codes of conduct in gymnastics help children learn the importance of rules for safety, and teach respect toward others.
Some other benefits of Gymnastics:
- Develop coordination, flexibility, strength and power. Pound for pound, gymnasts are among the strongest of all the Olympic athletes.
- Gain self-esteem, confidence, and a positive “can do” attitude.
- Learn to listen and follow rules and directions.
- Social interaction with peers
- Learn how to be determined towards goals.
- Develop skills to enhance other sports
- It’s FUN!
So, whether you dream of becoming an Olympian or if you just want to have fun and develop some important abilities to your life, Gymnastics is the perfect activity for you!
What Are You Waiting For?!
“There is one characteristic of gymnastics that is rare to discover in other sports. Gymnastics is acyclic. The actions and motions of the body do not repeat themselves as they do in running or swimming, for example. Because of this acyclic nature, the body and mind of the gymnast are exposed to ever changing stimuli since the same movements are not repeated over and over. One of the possible benefits of this is to offset plateaus while the athlete continues to progress and achieve.”
— Wm. Sands Ph.D., Exercise Physiologist
University of Utah