Gymnastics History

Where the Oldest Athletic Competition Got Started

Gymnastics is another popular world sport today that has been in existence since the earliest days of athletic competitions. The Greeks were the first to exhibit this sport which combines all the physical traits of strength, dexterity, and concentration; and gymnastics has been practiced by humans continuously across the world since the Greek Hellenistic period. After the Roman invasion of Greece in the second century BC, gymnastics was adopted by the Roman army for training exercises, and the practice was spread across the ancient world through Roman conquest. When the Olympics were outlawed in AD 393, the sport of gymnastics was lost to the common citizen, and with the destruction of the Roman army in 476, the art of gymnastics was all but lost to the world.

Gymnastics was developed by the classical Greeks in the fifth century BC as a means to develop the muscles necessary for hand-to-hand combat. The sport was expanded throughout the Hellenistic period where it transcended military exercise and was incorporated into everyday civilian life, thanks to its inclusion in the Greek Olympics. Activities such as rings, pommel horse, and the floor exercises were all first exhibited at the Greek Olympics. Gymnastics was coveted so much in ancient Greek culture that it was made mandatory for all Greek students. The modern word gymnasium made its first appearance in the Hellenistic Greek period as open-air arenas where gymnasts could practice. The fourth Macedonian War of BC 150 brought the whole of the Grecian states under Roman control. This event brought much of Greek culture into the scope of Roman society, and gymnastics was one of the cultural aspects absorbed by Rome. The ever-expanding Roman Empire used gymnastics to keep its troops in peak fighting condition. Through its conquests, Rome was able to spread the seeds of gymnastics throughout the ancient world from Africa to England. In AD 393, Emperor Theodosius outlawed the Greek Olympic Games. This decree was a major hit to the sport of gymnastics, and the art was all but lost to the average Roman citizen. Gymnastics continued its practice by the Roman army for the next century, until the collapse of Rome in 476 brought about the European dark ages, and aesthetic sports such as gymnastics nearly died out completely.

Like many of the classical Greco-Roman sports, gymnastics saw a revival during the 16th century renaissance where it was revived for its health benefits and difficulty in competition. Gymnastics saw a major leap forward in the early 19th century when German doctor Friedrich Ludwig Jahn developed a series of exercises for young men. Having introduced the pommel horse, horizontal bar, parallel bar, balance beam, ladder, and vaulting horse, Jahn is generally seen as the father of modern gymnastics. Jahn’s techniques became so popular that his gymnastics techniques were adopted by the US military toward the end of the 19th century to improve hand-to-hand combat skills. Gymnastics earned a spot in the first summer Olympic games in 1896 and has been an Olympic sport ever since.

When the US military brought gymnastics training to America in the late 1800s, the sport quickly caught on as a popular mental and physical exercise among the civilian middle and upper classes. This popularity among the citizenry led to the formation of the first organized gymnasiums and gymnastics teams in the early 1900s. By 1954, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) had laid down a series of rules and a scoring system to be followed in all organized gymnastics competitions. Gymnastics captured the hearts of Americans and became one of the games’ most popular sports in the United States when Mary Lou Retton posted a perfect score and won the gold medal in the all-around competition at the 1984 Summer Games.

Gymnastics is an officially recognized varsity sport at 82 U.S. colleges and universities. The NCAA allows all gymnastics programs to issue 6 scholarships per year to men and 12 per year to women. This equates to nearly 1,500 scholarships per year available to high school gymnasts. But distinguishing yourself from the rest of the top-notch gymnasts is the key to securing one of these scholarships. has helped thousands of athletes over the last decade achieve their dreams of playing sports at the college level, many of them gymnasts. We have developed a formula that we guarantee will get you noticed by college coaches. In fact , more than 85 percent of our clients have gone on to receive scholarship offers to play at the NCAA level. If you are serious about continuing your gymnastic practice at the college level, then you must contact right away and start your recruiting process today.

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