History of Gymnastics

History of Gymnastics

What Gymnastics offer is a combination of body control, dexterity, strength, coordination and gracefulness that is performed in an artistic manner. The Greek civilization introduced this sport to enhance body development via a series of exercises. These were running, jumping, throwing, swimming, wrestling and weight lifting. If someone was physically fit, they were considered to have high value so this encouraged both men and woman to participate. The Romans developed a more formal sport and use gymnasiums to prepare their soldiers for warfare. Gymnastics is performed by both men and women at many levels, from local clubs and schools to colleges and universities, and in elite national and international competitions.

How Gymnastics Grew

The modernization of gymnastics began with a simple move from Johann Bernard Basedow in 1774 where he included the sport at his school in Dessau, Saxony. This is most probably the reason why the Germanic countries into the head in the sport. There after the popularity grew for the sport, Germany’s Friedrich Ludwig Jahn encouraged the use of the horizontal bar, the side bar, the parallel bars, jumping events and the balance beam.

History of Gymnastics1

Gymnastics thrived in Germany in the 1800s. In Sweden, a more elegant form of the sport was developed called stressing rhythmic movement. Jahn opened a school in Berlin in 1811 and this was followed by the creation of many clubs in Europe and England. The sport was then introduced to the United States. Dr. Dudley Allen Sargent a teacher who taught gymnastics at some U.S. universities about the time of the Civil War, is credited with inventing more than 30 pieces of apparatus. As gymnastics grew it was due to the actions of European immigrants, who presented the sport in their new admiring cities in the 1880s. Gymnastic clubs were then formed as Sokol and Turnverein groups.


The International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) was established in Liege in 1881. The men’s gymnastics competition became so popular that it was to be included in the first upgraded or modern Olympic Games in 1896. After that until the early 1950s, national and international competitions changed many of the exercises through the evolution of the sport. For example, synchronized team floor exercises, high jumping, rope climbing, running and horizontal ladder. Women organized and participated in gymnastics events in the 1920s but the event was primitive. They only were allowed to do synchronized exercises and track and field. These games were held in 1928, in Amsterdam.

Olympic Games Gymnastics

The events for both men and women had been standardized by The Olympic Games and the apparatus for these events took on a more modernized format. The grading platforms had been agreed upon as well as a point system from 1 to 15. This is when the Soviet gymnasts astonished the world with their extreme discipline and challenging performances, setting an example that continues until today. The method of television and media has helped publicize and recruit a modern age of gymnastics. Both female and male gymnastics now draw considerable attention globally, and excellent gymnasts are found internationally.