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A Brief History Of Gymnastics

Posted on - 26th September 2023

In one of our previous articles, we discussed the history of ice skating. As a manufacturer of ice skating and gymnastics attire, we thought it only fair to give gymnastics its time in the spotlight. We hold a particular interest in the deep-rooted history of gymnastics and the profound impact it has had on athletic wear. Gymnastics is not just a sport, it's an art form that combines strength, flexibility and elegance in perfect harmony. Join us on a journey through time as we explore a brief history of gymnastics.

Ancient Beginnings

While we don’t have an exact date as to when gymnastics began, we do know its origins can be traced back to ancient Greece, over 2,500 years ago! The word ‘gymnastics’ derives from the Greek word ‘gymnazo’ which means to train or exercise loin-clothed. Ancient gymnasts practised their routines with limited clothing to showcase the human body's physical beauty and power. In Greek cities, such as Athens, male gymnasts would train and compete against each other. Instead of a vaulting table, the gymnasts would leap over a running bull!

The Birth of Modern Gymnastics

The late 18th and early 19th centuries marked a turning point for gymnastics. Johann Christoph Friedrich GutsMuths is known as ‘the grandfather of gymnastics.’ He was a German teacher who introduced gymnastics into the school curriculum and wrote the world's first systematic textbook of gymnastics in 1793, outlining various exercises to improve strength and physical health. 

Another German educator and gymnast, Friedrich Ludwig Jahn is referred to as ‘the father of gymnastics.’ He introduced the world to apparatus-based exercises. It is believed that he is the inventor of the balance beam, parallel bars and the rings. The rapid spread of gymnastics made it a popular sport across Europe and the United States. Women began to participate, gymnastic clubs were formed and more competitions were held. In 1811, the Bureau of the European Gymnastics Federation was formed to act as the governing body. Nowadays, it is known as the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG).

Olympics Games

Gymnastics reached new heights when it became an Olympic sport. The first Olympic gymnastics events took place in the 1896 Athens Olympics for men and the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics for women. It was held outdoors in 1896 with limited events and the scoring system was more simple. Over the decades, the scoring system moved from the traditional ‘perfect 10’ system to the current Code of Points, which evaluates the difficulty (D score) and execution (E score) of routines separately. For the 128th anniversary of gymnastics being an Olympic sport, we can enjoy watching world-class gymnasts in the upcoming 2024 Paris Olympics.

Celebrate History With New Gymnastics Attire

From ancient Greece to earning its place in the Olympic Games, gymnastics has captivated hearts worldwide. As gymnastics evolved, so did the attire. To discover more, read our article on the evolution of gymnastic leotards

At Olympique, we celebrate this rich history by providing female gymnasts of all ages with practical, yet fashionable attire with worldwide delivery. Browse our latest collection featuring sleeveless and long-sleeved gymnastics leotards for competitions as well as gym shorts and training leotards. For gymnastics clubs, we can design and manufacture your bespoke team garments. All of our leotards and garments are manufactured with high-quality materials - lycra for stretch and breathability, velvet for softness, comfort and absorbency, hologram materials for metallic striking designs. 


Whether you’re just starting out or have been competing for years, you’re part of a growing community and young gymnasts represent the future generation of gymnastics, so looking the part is a must!