March 2021

Artistic Gymnastics Equipment & History



The ancient Greeks believed gymnastics to be the perfect symmetry between mind and body. Modern gymnastics evolved at the end of the 19th century.

Philosophical beginnings

Plato, Aristotle and Homer heartily advocated the strengthening qualities of gymnastic activity. The Greeks believed symmetry between the mind and body was possible only when physical exercise was coupled with intellectual activity.


The term “artistic gymnastics” emerged in the early 1800s to distinguish free-flowing styles from techniques used in military training. Gymnastic competitions began to flourish in schools and athletic clubs across Europe and made a fitting return when the Olympic Games were revived in Athens in 1896.


Between 1896 and 1924 the sport evolved into what we recognise as modern gymnastics. Among those disciplines discarded were club swinging, rock lifting and even swimming, which appeared in 1922.


In the early days of artistic gymnastics at the Games, participants often had a background in ballet, and would reach their peak in their 20s. Nadia Comaneci’s and Nellie Kim’s perfect scores of 10 at the 1976 Montreal Games, at the age of 14, heralded an era of younger champions, trained specifically in gymnastics from childhood, although gymnasts must now be 16 to compete in the Olympic Games.


Artistic gymnastics was introduced at the very first Olympic Games in 1896 in Athens, and has been present at every edition of the Games since then. At the beginning, it comprised disciplines that are difficult to qualify as “artistic”, such as climbing and acrobatics.

The foundations of the Olympic gymnastics programme were laid at the 1924 Games in Paris, when the men’s apparatus individual and team competitions appeared. In 1928, women were included in the Amsterdam Games. It was not until 1952 that the women’s programme was developed, with seven events, and then stabilised at six events as from the 1960 Games in Rome.

This discipline was mainly dominated by the Soviet Union from 1952 onwards, following the creation of the Russian Gymnastics Federation in 1883. At the 2008 Games in Beijing, it was the Republic of China’s turn to win the most gold medals.

Discover the reference document for Artistic Gymnastics.

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If you’re like thousands of other gymnasts around the world right now, you’re probably faced with a unique challenge these days – you’re not allowed to go to your gym. On top of that, meets have been canceled and no one is sure when gyms will reopen or if and when meets will resume this season. 

While not being able to get to the gym for practice or meets is certainly not an ideal situation for anyone, it’s something we can choose to make the best of while we have no other choice but to keep our social distance. And despite these crazy conditions, this doesn’t mean our gymnastics has to suffer. There are many things you can do at home to keep up your strength, endurance, and skills while you are away from the gym. 

First, definitely consult with your gym to see if they have any workout plans for you to do. During the past week we’ve seen many gyms going on social media and having their coaches share conditioning workouts for their gymnasts. 

Second, remember to always do things that are within your current limits as a gymnast. You should never try new gymnastics skills or do skills that require a spot at home. Safety first. Remember that just because you might not be able to train a skill doesn’t mean you can’t do the smaller things that will help you learn that skill faster when you eventually return to the gym like work on your strength and conditioning drills.

Finally, remember that while you might not be able to get to the gym, you can still maintain your skills and even make progress if you commit to training at home daily. You can make them part of your home school routine and they might even fulfill your PE requirements in the process. 

We’ve compiled a list of things you can do at home when you can’t get to your gymnastics center. See which of these you can incorporate into your daily routine.


We all know keeping up with your flexibility for gymnastics is super important. Yet it’s so easy to forget about maintaining your flexibility and to skip out on stretching. During this time at home, remember to include daily stretching as part of your every day routine. You can do the static stretches that you do in the gym which might be things like sitting in your splits or doing pike sits for a certain amount of time. Another thing you can do is active stretching. Research has shown the effectiveness of active stretching versus static stretching in terms of gaining flexibility for things like your split leaps and kicks.  


Conditioning is also important while you’re away from the gym. You might decide to avoid this one since it’s not as fun as everything else you might do at home, but if you want to keep up with your stamina and strength during your time off from gymnastics then this one is a must. A fun activity to do is the Baby Shark conditioning workout for gymnasts. You can do this every day as a great way to warm up and condition your abs. 

Here are some ideas for conditioning exercises you can do at home:

Mountain Climbers


Frog Jumps

Jumping Jacks

Glute Bridges

Front Lunges

Side Lunges

Back Lunges

Again, check with your gyms to see if they have a specific conditioning workout for you to do.   


Your jumps and leaps are dance elements that you probably don’t have too much time to perfect during the season because you’re busy doing some of the bigger skills. If you focus your time on these smaller elements, you’ll help to improve your score when you eventually compete again. A great way to do this is to videotape yourself doing your jumps and leaps and then take a look at your video. Do your jumps/leaps need more height, more extension, better form? If so, try to correct those things and videotape yourself again to see if you’ve improved. Also check out our article on how to improve your jumps for more exercises you can do at home to improve your jumps.


Handstands are the most fundamental gymnastics skill that you can master since they are the foundation for harder skills. This month we’re running a Handstand Hold and Walk Challenge in our online SkillTrakker community to help gymnasts improve on their form at home (You can still join and catch up on all the exercises you missed). One great drill that we love from our SkillTrakker challenge is Spiderman Against the Wall. This drill teaches good form and builds arm strength. This is something you can do for a few minutes every day to maintain your strength and practice good form in your handstands.


Now is the chance to focus on the smaller details of your routines. Do your routines over and over (minus the tumbling skills) and practice your expression, artistry, and dynamics. Practice lifting your chest and chin and exuding confidence. Work on the littlest of details such as making sure your feet are pointed and in correct alignment during your turns and that you are working on high releve. 


With the extra time away from the gym, you can start to get more serious about your mental training. Every day, either before you go to sleep at night or right before you do your conditioning and flexibility workouts, go through every one of your routines in your mind. See yourself doing your routine perfectly with good form. Feel yourself going through the routine with ease and enjoying doing them. Imagine yourself finishing your routine and feeling the satisfaction of having done a great routine.

In addition to these ways to keep up your gymnastics, here are some other articles that will help you while you’re stuck without a gym to go to:

Start Improving Your Gymnastics With 4 Easy Steps

10 Exercises You Can Do At Home to Improve Your Gymnastics

Remember, at the end of the day this will all pass. Your gym will open up again soon and you’ll be back to your regular gym workouts in no time.