Gymnastics has a long history that dates back to the ancient Greeks up to its modern development in 18th century Germany. Here is a closer look at the history of gymnastics:
The Physically Fit Greeks
The early Greeks valued physical fitness and the perfection of the human body. This led to the forming of basic gymnastic and Olympic sports, such as throwing, jumping, and running. The modern word gymnasium comes from the Greek word gymnazein, which translated to “do physical exercise.” Gymnasiums were schools for practicing gymnastics, exercising, and socializing.
The Highly-Refined Romans
After the Romans conquered the Greeks, they refined the Greek activities and developed them into formal sports and competitions. Romans also used these early gymnastic movements to physically train soldiers. They used gymnasiums for the same purpose of exercise and training. However, the gymnasiums were reserved for training soldiers rather than socialization. The sport of gymnastics would later fall out of practice, but tumbling remained a popular pastime.
The Modern Germans
During the late 1700s, physical instructors began introducing the early forms of gymnastics in their training schools. Friedrich Ludwig Jahn of Germany is considered the father of modern gymnastics for his developments of different gymnastics bars, the balance beam, and jumping events. Germany was the leader in gymnastic sports and clubs that would eventually spread across Europe and England. It was not until the 1860s to 1880s that gymnastics was brought to the United States.
The Olympic Competitors
Men’s gymnastics has been a part of the modern Olympics since their formation in 1896. Women’s gymnastics was added in 1936. Men dominated the sport for decades until the performances of Olga Korbut in 1972 and Nadia Comaneci in 1976. These women’s performances were highly televised and encouraged the popularity of gymnastics among viewers. Since these performances, gymnastics has been a heavily promoted sport for both men and women.
Introduce children to the wonder of gymnastics in Tucson, AZ with Heart & Soul Kids Activity Center. We have many classes to address all skill levels and interests. Please call us at (520) 818-7974 to speak with an enrollment expert.