Gymnastics is a graceful and artistic sport that requires a combination of strength, balance, agility, and muscle coordination, usually performed on specialized apparatus. Gymnasts, wearing gymnastics leotards, perform sequences of movements requiring flexibility, endurance, and kinesthetic awareness, such as handsprings, handstands, split leaps, aerials and cartwheels.
Gymnastics as we know it dates back to ancient Greece. The early Greeks practiced gymnastics to prepare for war. Activities like jumping, running, discus throwing, wrestling, and boxing helped develop the muscles needed for hand-to-hand combat. Additional fitness practices used by the ancient Greeks included methods for mounting and dismounting a horses and a variety of circus performance skills.
Gymnastics became a central component of ancient Greek education and was mandatory for all students. Gymnasia, buildings with open-air courts where the training took place, evolved into schools where gymnastics, rhetoric, music, and mathematics were taught. The ancient Olympic Games were born near this time.
As the Roman Empire ascended, Greek gymnastics for was more or less turned into military training. In 393 AD the Emperor Theodosius abolished the Olympic Games completely. The games had become corrupt, and gymnastics, along with other sports declined. For centuries, gymnastics was all but forgotten.
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