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Gymnos Guys – Gymnastics Goes Back To Its Naked Roots

Sam Oldham astride his horse

The Olympics in Rio are taking up the starting position, and Yorkshire-based Team GB gymnast Nile Wilson has dusted his hands with chalk and mounted his pommel horse to warm up and show off his pecs, tris, tatts, abs and obliques.

Oh, and advertise Hyperflex jeans.

They certainly look very flexible. Though surely there’s a jean-shorts version available? Or perhap a denim thong?

Nile, 20, is not the only UK gymnast to be ‘exploited’ and ‘objectified’ by the rapacious eye of advertising in our body-centred age.

Olympic medallist Louis Smith, 27, a former Strictly contestant and almost as famous for his collection of hair straighteners as his medals, has also been showing us his eye-watering versatility in an ad for Kellogg’s – in his pajama bottoms.

Long gone are the days when cornflakes would save you from self-abuse.

Paradoxically, gymnastics is not just the purest Olympic sport but also the most spornosexual – after all, the word ‘gymnastics’ derives from the Ancient Greek for ‘exercise naked’ (‘gymnos’ = ‘naked’). The Greeks saw it as the perfect training for war – but also an aesthetic good in itself, informing much of their sculpture. It’s weightlifting where the weight is your own body. Crossfit without the cult – and the beards (mostly).

It also makes for spectacular HD TV – perfect human forms executing perfect gravity-defying movements, and flexing their core muscles in the process. Today’s gymnastics is not so much about preparing for war as stardom. Which can of course be a cut-throat business.

And to that end there’s a whole new generation of male gymnasts who seem very happy to get closer to the original nakedness of gymnastics, many of them sharing semi-naked selfies on social media that show off – sometimes in extreme, saucy close-up – their aesthetic as well as their sporting achievements.

I think we’re going to see a lot more of them this summer.

Tip: DAKrolak