Gymnastics: Then and Now

9:36 PM
Every twirl, tumble and turn gymnasts do indicate the richness of the sport and how it has evolved throughout the years. Gymnastics started out in ancient Egypt as female acrobats perform for the Pharoah and other Egyptians of noble decent. Drawings have been proven to be as old as 5000 BC. The spread of the sport went on from Egypt to Greece, China, Persia and India and even Rome. However, it was in Greece that the sport flourished to be what it is today. Then, gymnatics was for the total development of the body through different physical activities such as running, jumping, wrestling, weightlifting, swimming and throwing. Later, it became crucual for the ancient Olympic Games as Greeks advocated it in honor of Zeus. Gymnastics is actually derived from the Greek word "gymnos" meaning naked because then, male athletes trained and competed in their birthday suits. Consequently, women are not allowed to join or to watch.


The Greeks built  several elaborate gymnasia for phyiscal training. Later on, it evolved into a center for training both the mind and the body. Teachers were Grammatistes who taught reading, writing and other academic endevours; Kitharistes who taught music and Paidotribes who taught physical fitness and were the first P.E. teachers! Gymnastics reached its peak in Sparta , wherein both male and female received the education. Males took it for military training and discipline while females took it in order to be able to give birth to healthy offspring as part of the city-state. Early Christians view gymnastics as Satanic since it focuses on the body and gymnasts perform in nude. This is a big misconception since the Greeks thought of the body as a temple  in which gymnastics could improve both their phyisical and mental health. Philosophers such as Socrates, Plato and Aristotle would go their to workout and later on discuss philosophy. With this sport came the ancient form of physical therapy through Galen's medical gymnastics. As of today, aspects early gymnastics training evolved into separate sports such as track and field, wrestling and boxing.

Currently, gymnastics is an end in itself and gymnasts train for competition and not for something else. Because of rigid training, gymnasts are exposed to the dangers of injuries, wrong posture and underdeveloped body parts which are not properly trained or strengthened. Mark Alexander, a former parallel bars gymnast, exposes the backwardness of coaches in training gymnasts. He emphazied that coaches were just gymnasts before and whatever their coaches have taught them, they will teach the same to their students. He appeals that there be change in priority in training, that instead of training the gymnast in order to be able to do a stunt, the coach must train hm or her to strengthen his whole body. Coaches must integrate strenghtening and stretching exercise before and after the training itself. He further suggests that coaches take a course on anatomy or other related to course that would enable them to understand more and be more compassionate about their trainee's body condition. Mark reveals that whatever injuries a gymnast gets, he or she suffers the most long after retirement. People in this kind of sport then must be knowledgeable too of what they are undergoing and be cautious of the stunts they are doing. Gymnasts and coaches must first consider health and safety before anything else. Just like the ancient Greeks, they must work hand in hand and integrate their knowledge to their craft.

Sources:
History of the Sport Gymnastics: http://www.straipsniai.lt/en/Gymnastics/page/11278
Posture and Gymnastics: http://www.gymnasticsrescue.com/posture.htm
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