< SECTION 1 OF 2 > Gymnastics Gymnastics is a sport involving performance of exercises requiring physical strength, flexibility, agility, coordination, balance, grace, and passion for the sport. Internationally, all of the gymnastic sports are governed by the Fédération Internationale de Gymnastique (FIG), with each country having its own national governing body affiliated to FIG. Competitive Artistic gymnastics is the best known of the gymnastic sports. It typically involves the women’s events of uneven parallel bars, balance beam, floor exercise, and vault. Men’s events include floor exercise, pommel horse, still rings, vault, parallel bars, and high bar. Gymnastics evolved from exercises used by the ancient Greeks, that included skills for mounting and dismounting a horse, and from circus performance skills. Other gymnastic sports include rhythmic gymnastics, the various trampolining sports, and acrobatic gymnastics. Participants can include children as young as five years old doing kindergym and children’s gymnastics, recreational gymnasts of ages 5 and up, competitive gymnasts at varying levels of skill, and world class athletes. Exercises of the ancient Greeks began with athletic feats performed by each individual according to his own notion. The youth were encouraged to combine amusement with exercise. In time, this kind of exercise was incorporated into a system that figured prominently in the state regulations for education. In fact, the period for exercise or gymnastics was For more information see: Licensed under the CC-BY-SA: PassageBank Passage provided under license from Use and duplication is restricted to licensees only. < SECTION 2 OF 2 > equal to the time spent on art and music combined. All Greek cities had a gymnasium—a courtyard for jumping, running, and wrestling. As the Roman Empire ascended, Greek gymnastics gave way to gymnastics whose purpose was military training. The Romans, for example, introduced the wooden horse. In 393 AD, the Emperor Theodosius abolished the Olympic Games—which by then had become corrupt—and gymnastics, along with other sports, declined. For centuries, gymnastics was all but forgotten. In the fifteenth century, Girolamo Mercuriale from Forlì (Italy) wrote De Arte Gymnastica, that brought together his study of the attitudes of the ancients toward diet, exercise, and hygiene, and the use of natural methods for the cure of disease. De Arte Gymnastica also explained the principles of physical therapy and is considered the first book on sports medicine. In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century Germany, two pioneer physical educators—Johann Friedrich GutsMuths (1759–1839) and Friedrich Ludwig Jahn (1778– 1852)—created exercises for boys and young men on apparatus they had designed that ultimately led to what is considered modern gymnastics. In particular, Jahn crafted early models of the horizontal bar, the parallel bars (from a horizontal ladder with the rungs removed), and the vaulting horse. For more information see: Licensed under the CC-BY-SA: PassageBank Passage provided under license from Use and duplication is restricted to licensees only.

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