Gymnastics is an ancient form of sporting activity that has been around possibly since prehistoric times. While in today’s world we think of gymnastics as tumbling and flipping, in reality it began as something quite different.
The ancient Greeks considered wrestling, swimming, racing, boxing, and weightlifting all forms of gymnastics. Collectively, these activities were used for strict military training.
In recent times, gymnastics training for students of all ages has risen in popularity. With the addition of gymnastics to the events of the Summer Olympics, as a requirement for contemporary dance, and a must for cheerleaders, gymnastics is now regarded as one of the fundamentals that underlies preparation for many other sports.
According to usagym.org, gymnastics has expanded to include several disciplines, including:
The term “artistic gymnastics” was devised to differentiate the free-form style from the strict, military style. Artistic gymnastics is an area in which short, 30-to-90-second routines are performed by men and/or women on several types of apparatus, including:
• Balance beam
• Floor exercise
• High bar
• Parallel bars
• Pommel horse
• Still rings
• Uneven bars
Acrobatic gymnastics is a partner sport that combines specifically choreographed dance and acrobatic routines that entail agility, balance, gracefulness, and strength. Routines are performed to music to enhance the excitement and beauty of the exercises.
Synchronization of the choreography with a partner is an essential aspect of acrobatic gymnastics. Due to the body control necessary to perform the exercise, these activities have been used as a part of the physical training even for astronauts and pilots.
Students of acrobatic gymnastics may progress from the recreational level to the compulsory and elite levels of competition.
Cheerleading has come a long way from bouncing, waving pom-poms, and shouting a rhyming cheer that ended with a spread-eagle jump and a shout at the climax. Now cheerleaders require outstanding athletic ability, which may benefit from and indeed require formal gymnastic training.
In addition to revving up the crowd in support for their team, cheerleaders use basic components of gymnastics tumbling, such as round-offs, handsprings, back tucks, and layouts. More advanced skills may include front tucks, single/double twisting layouts, or Arabians.
Tap, ballet, and jazz dancers of yesteryear would probably be in awe of the skills of competitive dancers today. In addition to tour jetés and splits, dancers may now be considered athletes in their own right.
When the basics of dance training are combined with the art of gymnastics, gymnastics management, balance, agility, and speed on the floor, beams, and board are increased.
Rhythmic gymnastics utilizes the elements of gymnastics, dance, and ballet while manipulating an apparatus such as a ball, hoop, rope, ribbon, or club. It can also be performed freestyle.
This form may be performed individually or in teams of five. Choreographed routines require the necessary flexibility, strength, and dexterity expected of seasoned athletes.
In addition to these styles of gymnastics, other disciplines include T & T (Trampoline and Tumbling), GFA (Gymnastics for All — Special Olympics), and Olympics training.