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What Is House Gymnastics?

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  • Written By: C. Mitchell
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 19 November 2016
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House gymnastics is a type of exercise that combines stretches and acrobatics with household furniture and fixtures. As far as disciplined fitness plans go, house gymnastics is very loose, with much left up to the individual participant. There are many popular poses that involve things such as handstands, balancing acts and wall-climbing maneuvers. Fixed rules do not really exist, and participants are free to innovate as far as their own spaces and flexibility will allow.

Elements of house gymnastics have been around for quite some time on a very casual level. The movement gained recognition and more of a devoted following in 2002 with a website published by two Englishmen, James Ford and Spencer Harrison. According to Ford and Harrison, a quantifiable house gymnastics trend was born out of a stunt they pioneered while attempting to attach window blinds. Soon thereafter, they started a website to document this and other stunts, as well as to encourage submissions from others.

Exercise is part of the point of home gymnastics, but it is not often the motivating factor for participation. Alongside “improvement in general fitness,” Ford and Harrison’s materials list “connection with your domestic space” and “ability to impress your friends” as key benefits to the practice. Much of the house gymnastics movement’s early success owes directly to social media attention and user participation online. Users who uploaded photos of themselves doing specific poses raised interest, and part of the allure became exhibition-centered.

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Ford and Harrison soon began providing diagrams of basic moves and ultimately published a book of poses and ideas. Most of the stunts are designed for one person, but a few involve pairs or groups. Some sort of household fixture also is required, whether it is a door frame, a hallway, a standing bookcase or something else.

Human sculptures are a mainstay of much of house gymnastics. Most poses involve bodies being contorted in unusual ways, often playing off furniture or even other people. They incorporate elements of gymnastics with yoga, tumbling and climbing. According to Ford and Harrison, poses must be held for a minimum of three seconds before they are deemed legitimate. Participants who wish to post their photos on Ford and Harrison's website are prohibited from receiving assistance from other people to get into position.

Not all practice of house gymnastics is a rigorous as Ford and Harrison promote. Many people engage in more casual house gymnastics as a means of staying fit at home and maximizing existing spaces for use in a fitness regime. Not all house gymnastics involves complex acrobatics or wall-climbing stretches, either. Almost any exercise that involves holding a sustained pose with or pressing off something in the house will qualify.

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