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Why in the USSR the gymnastic wall was called "Swedish": where does the term come from?

The secret of the name of the Swedish wall lies in its origin. Source: Created with the help of AI

For some reason, some things in the USSR acquired "foreign" names. An angle grinder became a grinder, self-service meals were called buffets, and soft choreographic slippers became Czechs. The same fate befell the gymnastics wall, which consisted of high bars with many crossbars, which also became "Swedish," although it was no longer called that anywhere else in the world.

But where did this term come from? As OBOZ.UA found out, it is not so difficult to explain its appearance. The whole point is in the history of this sports device. It was first designed in Sweden.

The progenitor of the invention is considered to be a philologist and language teacher Per Henrik Ling. In the early nineteenth century, he spent several years in Europe, and when he returned home, he decided to take care of his health, in particular, he decided to fight the pain caused by rheumatism.

Ling noticed that physical exercise made his condition easier. In particular, the methods of two teachers, the German Johann Gutsmuths and the Swiss Johann Pestalozzi, who paid much attention to the physical development of their students, worked well.

Based on their approach, Ling developed his system of exercises. It was divided into four areas: pedagogical, aesthetic, medical, and military. The development was approved by the Swedish royal family, and in 1813 the teacher received permission to open the Central Gymnastic Institute in Stockholm. The institution trained physical education teachers for schools and the army.

When Per Henrik Ling died in 1839, his son Jalmar continued his work. Based on his father's developments, he created several gymnastic apparatus that are still in use today: a log, a vault, a bench with a saddle, and the very same gymnastic wall.

The innovation quickly found its way to the Russian Empire, where it gained considerable popularity. But it got its "imported" name in Soviet times when foreign origin was considered a sign of special quality against the background of local products.

In Sweden, the term "Swedish wall" is unknown. They call it ribbstol. It reads as "ribstool" and means literally what this device is – a frame with crossbars.

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