Gymnastics was popularized by the efforts of two instructors at the end of the 18th century and during the first half of the 19th century. Sweden's Per Henrik Ling promoted aesthetic gymnastics in which gymnasts expressed their feelings in a more fluent and rhythmic manner. Germany's Friedrich Ludwig Jahn (1778-1852) designed apparatus including the horizontal bar, parallel bars and still rings that ultimately led to what is considered modern gymnastics. The first gymnastics club was established in the United States in 1850. The foundations of modern gymnastics in Turkey were laid in the Galatasaray High School. Ali Faik Üstünidman, who graduated from this high school which was originally called Lycée Impérial Ottoman de Galata-Sérai (Galatasaray Mekteb-i Sultanisi) in 1868, was a gymnastics enthusiast and engaged in this discipline outside his official functions at the school. Jimnastik yahut Riyaziyat-ı Bedeniye he published in 1889 is the first sports book published in Turkey. Ali Faik Bey opened a gymnastics school where he trained students and at the same time continued his studies in cooperation with Mazhar Kazancı.
Gymnastics is usually done indoors and it consists of body movements which are performed both with and without apparatus. Gymnastics not only builds flexibility but also develops agility, coordination and strength. The right age to start gymnastics is between 4 and 8 years of age since the bodies of children at these ages are more flexible, it is easier to train them for competitions. Children can also start gymnastics at later stages in their lives and do the sport as a hobby. Also, children will reap the benefits of having engaged in gymnastics, which is the basic training tool for all sports, when, in later stages of their lives, they chose to engage in other sports.
Gymnastics help improve hand-eye coordination, develop strong and flexible muscle structure and improve the athlete’s team work skills.