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What is Gymnastics?

Kerry and Rosanna partner balance

Kerry and Rosanna partner balance

When CrossFit was getting started Greg Glassman started saying that CrossFit athletes were the “fittest” athletes on the planet. This claim has been made by many top athletes. Marathoners, triathletes, decathletes, etc. In order to claim one is the fittest you must agree on a definition of fitness. Greg defined what he believed fitness is in “What is Fitness” which was one of the very early CrossFit Journal articles. I was thinking about this and realized that when I say gymnastics, this term can mean different things to different people. So lets take a look.

The gymnastics you see predominantly at our facility is known as “Artistic Gymnastics”. This is the most commonly known variety of gymnastics. It involves the 6 men’s apparatus floor, pommel horse, rings, vault, parallel bars and high bar and the 4 women’s apparatus beam, vault, uneven bars and floor. There is a structure surrounding what a competitive routine can consist of. Each apparatus has a set of required elements and key components. Within these constraints athletes are able to put together their routine. These are known as “optional” routines. This is in contrast to “compulsory” routines which used to be a part of elite level competition, but were removed to allow athletes to spend their time on optional skills and routines.

Another form of gymnastics is “Rhythmic Gymnastics”. This form utilizes the floor exercise area and can include props such as balls, hoops, ropes and ribbons. There are individual and team routines. Routines involve significantly more dance elements than artistic gymnastics and creative use of the props allow for an infinite variety of movements.

CrossFit very loosely defines its use of the term “gymnastics” as, essentially, any bodyweight movement. Calisthenics fall into the gymnastics umbrella. Push ups, pull ups, rope climbing, etc all are part of the gymnastics component of CrossFit. This broad definition is why gymnastics is part of the base of the CrossFit pyramid. Learn to move yourself well before learning how to move other stuff well.

There are still many other sports and activities that all fall under the term gymnastics. Tumbling and trampoline, sport acrobatics, team acrobatics, etc. USA Gymnastics uses the term “general gymnastics” to encompass all of these different disciplines. The world of gymnastics is quite broad, but in all cases is founded on technique and efficiency of movement. All sport variants reward more difficult versions of skills and involve judging of technique in some way. Explore the world of gymnastics and if you’re not currently involved, take some classes. There is a reason gymnastics has been around for thousands of years. It is fun and a great way to keep strong and fit. Gymnastics is a natural expression of human movement.

Workout for May 10, 2013

A) Warm up: Back Squat 3 reps @75%, 3 reps @85%

B) 5 minutes upper back mobility

C) Back Squats 2-2 reps @95%

D) 4 rounds for time: row 500m / 30 ring push-ups - 15-min cut-off

E) 10-10-10 back extensions / 1 min - 1 min - 1 min handstand hold against wall / 10-10-10 kettlebell sling shots each direction

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