What is Wheel Gymnastics?
Wheel gymnastics is gymnastics inside a rolling wheel. While the wheel rolls on the floor the gymnast inside performs a variety of gymnastic and acrobatic moves. This sport is both competitive and a show sport. Wheel gymnastics is a great way to develop power, suppleness, balance and coordination.
The wheel consists of two steel rings (rims) which are covered with soft PVC. These rings are joined together by six 50 cm long steel rungs. Two of these rungs have wooden boards on them and two have handles joined on them. The wheel’s diameter is about 40 to 50 cm longer than the gymnast’s own height.
Wheel Gymnastics in Finland
The first wheel came to Finland in 1994 when Stina Luokkala moved here from Eskilstuna, Sweden. Luokkala started to lead hobby circle action in Turku although the amount of the devotees was first minor. In 1997 this group of persons interested in this event had gathered enough money for another wheel and on year 2000 one of them bought a wheel with the own money.
The real growth of the amount of the devotees happened after spring 2001, when, with the support of Nuori Suomi ry., the group got three second hand wheels of smaller sizes. Because of the growth of the event’s popularity the group has been able to buy six more wheels since 2001.
The group has been working under the Turun Sirkus ry. On January 2005 the group disengaged from Turun Sirkus to its own club, Varsinais-Suomen Rhönradvoimistelijat ry. which continues its predecessor’s activity in Turku and in Mynämäki.
However the first club in Finland concentrated only to wheel gymnastics, was Turun Rhönradvoimistelijat ry which was constituted on February 2002 but this company stopped its activity when Varsinais-Suomen Rhönradvoimistelijat ry was constituted.
On spring 2006 Varsinais-Suomen Rhönradvoimistelijat ry. has about 40 active members. It welcomes all foreign and local students, older or younger people to have fun with the wheel. There is a group for beginners and for more experienced gymnasts; if you are interested in, find our contacts here.
History of the Wheel
The first wheel was made during the first world war by a German railway worker called Otto Feick, who had got in jail because of resisting guns. He popped up the idea while sitting in jail, and remembering his childhood times when he had rolled down a hillside on two tied-together rims of a barrel. Feick became inspired by this memory and invented a new gymnastics instrument which he named Rhönrad and patented in 1925.
More wheels were soon produced and the event also spread to other countries. One medium of introduction for wheel gymnastics was Russian circus. But before this event had achieved permanent popularity, the second world war began and wheelgymnastics was almost completely forgotten and it did not get back on its feet until the 1990s, when the first world championships were arranged in 1993. Since then the world championships have been arranged every second year. The latest championships were arranged in Norway.
Every second year the international wheel gymnastics alliance IRV arranges an international 8-9-day-long training camp. These camps are held in the summer and in 2004 it was organized in Turku.
More about wheel gymnastics can be read from (IRV Internationaler Rhönradturn-Verband): www.rhoenrad.com