Wheel Gymnastics is a competitive gymnastics discipline in over 20 countries world-wide. Today, athletes from over 250 clubs compete to represent their region at National and World Championships.
A gymnastic wheel is made of rubber-coated steel and weighs between 80-150 lbs. Wheel gymnasts perform a large variety of moves inside or on top of the rolling wheel. This poses a unique challenge to both the mind and body of a gymnast as they learn to control the movement of the wheel while doing acrobatic tricks upside down. This low impact sport engages the whole body, especially upper body and core.
As a gymnastics discipline, Wheel Gymnastics was invented and established in Germany by Otto Feick in 1925. The sport has since evolved to contain three competitive disciplines: spiral, straight-line and vault.
In straight line, the wheel rolls on both rims in a straight line. This is the first discipline beginners learn. In competition this is done to music.
In spiral, the wheel rolls on one rim, the motion of the wheel is comparable to a spinning coin.
Vault is a more advanced disciple. The gymnast performs a dismount from the top of the rolling wheel onto a mat.
Wheel gymnastics is well known for its use in modern circus performance and visual art. In show performances, all three disciplines are combined. In a group, with a partner, in one wheel or alone, gymnasts use music and costumes to create spectacular show performances.
At a recreational level, Wheel Gymnastics is fun for all ages as there are suitable tricks for a wide range of skill levels and physical abilities. At the highest competitive level, male and female gymnasts usually compete until their mid-thirties, with their prime time in the early twenties.
The Cyr Wheel is a simplified version of the Gymnastic Wheel and only consists of one steel hoop (like a big and heavy hula hoop). The gymnast spins inside the Cyr wheel, where many moves resemble Spiral moves. While the Cyr Wheel was invented around the same time as the Gymnastic Wheel, it is only recently experiencing a big boom in the Gymnastic, Performance and Fitness world. The name Cyr Wheel was derived from Daniel Cyr, who was one of the first artists to use the Wheel as a professional performer. Since 2013, Cyr Wheel is included in the World Championships as an official Wheel Gymnastics discipline.