History of Gymnastics

Noorulain IftikharGymnastics2 Comments


Gymnastics has been in existence as an activity sport since 2000 years and 100 years old competitive sport.

Who invented GymnasticsAncient Gymnastics

Actual inventor of Gymnastics is a mystery, it began in ancient Greece. Many forms of athletic activity were part of ancient Greek gymnastics such as Wrestling, Running and physical exercises. It became famous as a fitness training program but also to understand art, philosophy and music. Every city of Greece had a gymnasium as hub of cultural activity. In Athens Greek city, gymnastic tournaments were held such as tumbling, rope climbing and many similar routines. According to Greek’s believe physical exercise coupled with intellectual exercise for symmetry between mind and soul. Athenians sponsored the ancient Olympics.

Roman Era

When Romans conquered Greece, they found gymnastics as valuable military fitness training. This practice was spread across the ancient world through Roman conquest. Greek gymnastics evolved into nothing more than glorified military training. It was banned in 393 A.D by Emperor Theodosius. This trend continued in Medieval Ages. The art was all but lost to average Roman citizen. After the fall of Roman army in 476 gymnastics lost to the world and vanished for hundreds of years.

Soldier’s TrainingSoldier's training

In early 19th century, Gymnastics adopted by US Military as training programs.

  Gymnastics Women Champions

By the 20th century, Gymnastics targeted to build muscles and strengthen young men.

In early 20th century, Advanced technologies were introduced in war field as Weapons.

Invention of modern Gymnastics

Gymnastics revived in 16th century for its health benefits. In early 19th century (1800) the modern sport was invented by German Doctor Friedrich Jahn (1778 – 1852), known as Father of Modern Gymnastics. He developed a series of exercises and apparatuses:

  • Pommel Horse
  • Parallel Bars
  • Horizontal Bars
  • Balance Beam
  • Vaults
  • Rings
  • Ladder

In 1811, first gymnasium opened by Friedrich Jahn.

During 18th and 19th century it was only exercised as a training. In late 19’s Gymnastics improved hand to hand combat skills of military in US. Charles Beck, Charles Follen and Franci s Lieber, immigrants in United States introduced Gymnastics to School Systems and US in 1830s.


This became famous as a mental and physical exercise among civilians.

In 1880s, Gymnastics’ competitions flourished in schools, athletic clubs all across Europe.

Gymnastics – A Sport

In 1881, the Bureau of European Gymnastics Federation, now-a-days known as International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) was formed. This federation introduced international competition.

In 1883, Amature Athletic Union (AAU) formed in United States, took over the control of different championships organized by various clubs.

Tumbling, Rope Climbing and Club Swinging failed to survive.

Gymnastics in Olympics

In 1896, First Olympics took place in Athens, Greece. Germany became dominant by winning all the medals. Five countries took part in this Championship. At that time women gymnastics were not used to held.

  Gymnastics - World Champions Men

Men gymnasts took part in;

  • Horizontal Bars
  • Parallel Bars
  • Vaults
  • Rings
  • Pommel Horse

In Antwerp, Belgium – 1st international championship held in 1903. In this event gymnasts were from Belgium, France, Netherlands and Luxembourg.

In 1904, 1st Men’s team competition was held in St. Lious.

1930’s- 9th championship (Luxembourg) included these events too – disappeared by 1954 World Championships’ gymnastics.

  • Broad Jump
  • Pole vault
  • Shot put
  • 100-metre dash

In 1970, USA Gymnastics took place. In 1984 – Introduction of Rhythmic Gymnastics in Olympics.

Women participation

In 1928, women were allowed to compete in gymnastics held in Amsterdam, event was team combined exercise dominated by Netherlands.

In 1952, women could participate in wider variety of gymnastics but not all.

Mary Lou Rotten – 1st American women to won the Olympic all around title.


Today Gymnastics

In 1997, age limit for gymnastics increased from 15 -16.

In 1999, Trampoline and Tumbling introduced in Olympics.

In 2001, Vault horse introduced.

In 2013, Xcel program added to Junior Olympic Program.

2016……. So On.

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