Gymnastics is a great way of boosting your body’s overall fitness, improving agility and muscle strength. Here’s a quick introduction to gymnastics, including the different categories of gymnastics and how it gets you fit.
A display of strength, agility, and mental toughness, gymnastics has provided some of the most breathtaking spectacles of Olympic history.
The sport can be traced back to ancient Greece, where such skills featured in the ancient Olympic Games. Ancient Rome, Persia, India and China all practiced similar disciplines, mostly aimed at preparing young men for battle. The word itself derives from the Greek word gymnos, meaning naked — dress requirements for athletes in those days were minimal, to say the least.
Gymnastics is split into three main areas:
- Artistic gymnastics
- Rhythmic gymnastics
- Trampoline gymnastics
In artistic events (performed on an apparatus), men compete in floor, pommel horse, rings, vault, parallel bars and horizontal bars. Female gymnasts compete on the vault, uneven bars, balance beam and floor. The competition includes all-round events and team events, also scored over each apparatus.
Rhythmic gymnastics (performed with an apparatus) is strictly a women’s competition. The gymnasts, accompanied by music, perform on a 13m-squared floor area (approximately 140ft squared) with rope, hoop, ball, clubs and ribbon. In the individual event they perform different routines with four of the five apparatus. In the team competition, teams of five perform together once using clubs and once with two using hoops and three using ribbons.
It debuted at the 1984 games and a group event was added in 1996.
Trampoline gymnastics debuted at the Sydney 2000 Games and features both men’s and women’s individual events. Trampoline competitions are open to both men and women.
Fitness benefits of gymnastics
The benefits include the following:
- Strengthens arm and leg muscles.
- Develops agility and flexibility.
- Improves the cardiovascular system.
- Boosts key foot and hand muscles.
- Improves concentration and mental focus.