It’s Called GYM·nas·tics for a Reason




Wassup Insiders???  Lately I have been obsessed with comparing sports and dance. I have been giving you some insights on how they are alike, how they’re different and how they benefit one another. Well as I was conducting my researching I had an “aha” moment and came across a sport that demonstrates both disciplines.

Welcome to the  world of GYMNASTICS.

I’m starting to believe “gym” was purposely added to the name

gym·nas·tics:  Physical exercises designed to develop and display strength, balance, and agility, especially those performed on or with specialized apparatus. Complex intellectual or artistic exercises: mental gymnastics. Informal Feats of physical agility.

Gymnastics was used as a method of keeping fit and as a form of competition. The ancient Greeks used to perform the exercises naked; however the use of clothing and special equipment for each event dates from the 18th century. During the 18th century the Germans developed gymnastics in their military training. Civilians caught on and it began to spread throughout other countries. In 1881 the European Gymnastics Federation was founded and it became the Federation Internationale de Gymnastique (FIG). In 1921 is when the non- European countries were admitted. Gymnastic competitions were featured at the modern Olympic games in 1896, women didn’t compete until 1928.
Male and female gymnasts come in a variety of sizes depending on their area/areas of expertise. For example the men’s rings event requires extraordinary upper body strength and the women’s rhythmic gymnastics relies on flexibility and precise muscle control. One thing that is a common attribute for every gymnast’s is their incredible balance and power.
The sport is split into different 3 main sections
Artistic Gymnastics:
Men’s artistic gymnastics consists of six disciplines
  1. Floor exercises
  2. Pommel
  3. Rings
  4. Vault
  5. Parallel bars
  6. High bar

Gymastics Women’s artistic gymnastics consists of four disciplines

  1. Vault
  2. Asymmetric bars
  3. Balance beam
  4. Floor exercises

As you see Men and Women only have two events in common which is the floor exercises and the vault. The vault is scored the same for both sexes but what I found interesting is that doesn’t apply to the floor exercises. Although their routines are similar they are differ in some important details. Women are expected  to demonstrate tumbles,jumps, turns and DANCE movements. As for the men they are expected to show off their tumbling and jumping skills but their is greater emphasis on strength. Male routines normally include presses such as the V-sit position. The V-position is a move where the joined legs are raised off the floor and the body is supported by the hands.

Rhythm Gymnastics: by the early 20th century , various forms of exercise to music had combined in the Swedish school of rhythmic gymnastics. Although the sport had been introduced to the United States it aroused little interest. At first , the only signs of growing popularity were in the former Soviet Union their rhythmic gymnastics championships were held from 1948 onward. The first international competition took place eight years later but the event was only admitted to the Olympics in 1984 (1996 for group routines). Since then competitors from Spain, Italy and Brazil have challenged the traditional dominance of Eastern European countries.
Team work Males
This event is a combination of gymnastics and ballet ; it can be done singly or in teams. The objection is to put on a graceful choreographed routine to music while working with different types of hand-held apparatus such as a club, hoop, ball, rope or ribbon. This sport is dominated by women yet a few men have also competed especially in Japan.
Trampoline: Trampolining is a recreational and competitive sport which individuals perform acrobatics while bouncing on a spring bound bed. With gymnastics routines full of twists, turns and elaborate moves reminiscent of diving , the sport is popular in the countries of Europe ,the former Soviet Union, as well as the United States, Japan and China. Trampolinists compete in individual and team events, including synchronized trampolining, double mini trampolining and tumble tracking. This event consist of a sequence of acrobatic movements in the air punctuated with contact with the trampoline bed. the aerial movements feature rotations and jumps with three body shapes such as the Tuck , Straight and Pike; each of these shapes vary in different degrees of difficulty.
Now I’m not being bias I think that the events I just went over were pretty interesting and you have to be a very talented and strong athlete to perform those skills but there are two more events that I would like to share with you guys because they actually have SPORTS in their title – Sports Acrobatics and Sports Aerobics.
The world championships of Sports Acrobatics was organized by the International Federation of Sports Acrobatics (IFSA) in Moscow in 1974. This event was featured as a demonstration sport at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney. Sports acrobatics is also known as Acrobatic gymnastics, it has a close links with conventional gymnastics and there is an increasing crossover between the two. Sports Acrobatics combines the strength , balance and grace of gymnastics with teamwork and musical accompaniment. Two or more acrobats perform choreographed sequences of balancing acts, handsprings, somersaults and tumbles earning points for execution and artistic impression.
Acrobatic gymnastics
Acrobatic Skills
Competitions have three sections each of which is designed to highlight one aspect of acrobatics and showcase certain key skills of the different members of the pair or team.
  1. Balance Routine- Team adopt and hold complex poses, including human pyramids. The positions must be held for three seconds.
  2. Dynamic Routine- Also known as the temp routine , this part of the event is more energetic than the balance section. Acrobats throw their partners in somersaults and they carry out technically demanding tumbling at speed.
  3. Combined Routine- The third routine should be a tour-de-force that combines the skills of the first two parts in a spectacular display.
Aerobics was established as a fitness routine during the late 1960s. At first aerobics struggled to gain credibility as a sport but gradually achieved acceptance and was eventually recognized by the FIG in 1994. The first sports aerobics World Championships were held in Paris France in 1995 and more than 70 FIG affiliates included aerobics within their gymnastics program.
Sports Aerobics is a fitness program that became a sport. This event can be done alone , in pairs, trios or groups. The routines must show dynamic and static strength, ,jumping ability flexibility and balance. The athletes must perform a continuous routine that should last exactly 1 minute and 45 seconds. Using the entire performance area and moving rhythmically with music, they must demonstrate at least 8 but no more than 12 compulsory elements which includes supports, levers, jumps, leaps, flexibility and turns. They have to at least perform two elements from pushups, freefalls, and circles with their legs and display artistic beauty and originality.
Gabby Douglas
Floor Moves
A routine has to include at least one element from each of the four groups, demonstrating flexibility, balance, dynamic strength, static strength and jumping. Competitors also have to present the seven basic steps
  1. March
  2. Jog
  3. Skip
  4. Knee lift
  5. Jumping Jack
  6. Kick
  7. Lunge

High Kick-  The hip of the raised leg is flexed to 180 degrees, while the knee stays straight and the toes are pointed. For example  the right leg is held vertically so the foot touches the right hand while the other leg is held still to support the weight of the body.

The Capoeira- This move demonstrates dynamic strength an attribute which the judges look for. This skill is performed by holding one leg forward showing strength and suppleness. This skill also showcases arm strength because the body is being held up by one arm.

Static Support- This is when the weight of the body is taken on the hands while the gymnast performs splits in midair. The legs are held horizontally while both hands support the body

Jumps- The range of leaps and jumps includes scissors, straddles and splits which shows off the athletes flexibility.

It’s really interesting how dance serves as a foundations to a great majority of sports and vice versa. I think naturally we don’t associate the two together because they serve two different missions. I personally think that if both athletes and dancers learn fundamentals from each other we would truly be in the presence of world class athletes and performers who will be changing the world and setting the bar high for generations to follow. The only way we can improve our skill level is to add different techniques and training elements to set us aside from the rest. So I’m encouraging you all to step and think outside the box and incorporate something new in your training you never know you may have one of those world class individuals sitting right under your nose!
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