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What is Gymnastics?




Gymnastics - STK SPORT

Gymnastics is a sport of the future, which, nonetheless, enjoys a long heritage and preserves an ancient tradition of demonstrating exactly what a person is capable of. Gymnastics involves the performance of exercises, on or with an apparatus, or a partner, requiring physical strength, flexibility, coordination, power, agility, grace, balance and control. Gymnastics is one of the oldest Olympic sports and one of the World’s most popular sports. Moreover, it is one of the most inclusive sports where male or female, young or old, able-bodied or disabled can take part.

The History of Gymnastics

In the ancient times, the main goal of gymnastics was to prepare strong and capable soldiers for war. However, there was a clear emphasis placed upon the physical preparation of the body when the well-developed physique of the gymnasts became an object of admiration and adoration. Many writers on education have valued gymnastics from the point of view of health and advocated the benefits of gymnastic exercise for the body [1]. During its development, gymnastics gradually moved away from preparation for war towards entertainment in the form of competitive sport.

International Gymnastics Federation (FIG)

It all started on 23rd July 1881, when the foundation of what would become the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) [1,2,3,6] was established and its primary objectives were to utilise gymnastics in the promotion and pursuit of peace, to ensure that all experiences and ideas within the sport could be freely exchanged in order to further its development, and to promote the experiences of professional gymnasts to the wider sports world with the aim of serving, through its ethical standards, as a moral barometer for society as a whole.

FIG is the governing body for Gymnastics worldwide, the oldest established international sports federation (1881), and it has participated in the Olympic Games since their revival in 1896 [3]. By 1954, Olympic Games apparatus and events for both men and women had been standardized in the modern format [2], and, therefore, the men’s programme obtained his modern Olympic Order or the standard working order of apparatus, which includes Floor, Pommel Horse, Rings, Vaulting Horse, Parallel Bars and Horizontal Bar [1]. Later, other disciplines were recognised by the International Gymnastics Federation, including Rhythmic gymnastics (1961) [2], Trampoline, Aerobic Gymnastics, Acrobatic Gymnastics (1998) [6] and General Gymnastics. However, competitive artistic gymnastics is the best known of the gymnastic events worldwide [2].

The Men’s Artistic Gymnastics (MAG) includes six apparatuses [4]:

  • Floor Exercise Floor Exercise (FX)
  • Pommel Horse Pommel Horse (PH)
  • Still Rings Still Rings (SR)
  • Vault Vault (VT)
  • Parallel Bars Parallel Bars (PB)
  • Horizontal Bar Horizontal Bar (HB)

The Women’s Artistic Gymnastics (WAG) includes four apparatuses [5]:

  • Vault Vault (VT)
  • Uneven Bars Uneven Bars (UB)
  • Balance Beam Balance Beam (BB)
  • Floor Exercise Floor Exercise (FX)



  1. Palmer, C. and Sellers, V. (2009) Aesthetic heritage of Men’s Artistic Gymnastics for Olympic competition. Journal of Olympic History, 17, 1, 23-38.
  2. Wikipedia – official website. Gymnastics, available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gymnastics
  3. International Gymnastics Federation – Official website, available at: http://www.fig-gymnastics.com/
  4. MAG Code of Points 2013-2016, issued by the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG)
  5. WAG Code of Points 2013-2016, issued by the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG)
  6. Frederick, A. Bruce. 'Gymnastics.' Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, Web.18.June. 2015. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/250277/gymnastics#ref700590