The Father of gymnastics is widely regarded as Friedrich Ludwig Jahn, the German Prussian physical culture pioneer. As a commander in the Military, Jahn was shocked at the poor physical condition of the soldiers during the Napoleonic wars of the early 1800’s. As a result, Jahn devised a system of exercises and games intended to improve strength and stamina.
This gave rise to the Turnverein Movement, or gymnastic societies, which sought not only to build military readiness but also national pride through physical training pursuits.
It was Jahn who devised early models of the gymnastic equipment which are commonly today: the balance beam, horizontal bar, the parallel bars and the vaulting horse.