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The International Journal of the History of Sport
ISSN: 0952-3367 (Print) 1743-9035 (Online) Journal homepage: https://www.tandfonline.com/loi/fhsp20
From Ling Gymnastics to Sport Science: The
Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences, GIH,
from 1813 to 2013
To cite this article: Suzanne Lundvall (2015) From Ling Gymnastics to Sport Science: The
Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences, GIH, from 1813 to 2013, The International Journal of
the History of Sport, 32:6, 789-799, DOI: 10.1080/09523367.2015.1023191
To link to this article: https://doi.org/10.1080/09523367.2015.1023191
Published online: 01 Apr 2015.
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From Ling Gymnastics to Sport Science: The Swedish School of Sport
and Health Sciences, GIH, from 1813 to 2013
The Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences, GIH, Sweden
In 2013, the former Royal Gymnastic Central Institute, now the Swedish School of Sport
and Health Sciences (GIH), celebrated its bicentenary. The purpose of this paper is to
describe, by means of a literature review, the holding blocks that have contributed to the
continuity of the oldest institute for PE teacher education in the world. For the ﬁrst
hundred years Ling gymnastics represented a legitimate system for the schooling of the
body, the promotion of health and the rehabilitation of the sick. This resulted in strong
markers of exclusivity, keeping the institution together. The next hundred years saw the
discontinuity of Ling gymnastics, including medical gymnastics, and a call for sport
education. The new cornerstones were exercise science research and the establishment
of the Institute as an autonomous university college with the assignment to meet society’s
continued need for knowledge of how to support healthy citizens. Today’s challenges for
GIH include dealing with a changing society, the conﬂicting dimensions of (competitive)
sport, and the more philanthropic ideas of body and physicality.
Keywords: Ling; gymnastics; physical education; sport science; GIH
In 2013, the former Royal Gymnastic Central Institute (GCI), today called the Swedish
School of Sport and Health Sciences (GIH), celebrated its bicentenary. Pondering on this
long history triggers questions about which values and representations of physical culture
have supported this continuity and how these have been challenged, dissolved, and/or, in
some cases, reconstructed. The purpose of this paper is to describe, by means of a literature
review, the holding blocks and the challenges that have contributed to the continuity of the
oldest functioning teacher training institute for physical education (PETE) in the world.
The text assumes the character of a cultural historical journey over time.
Establishment in 1813 and the First Hundred Years
In the early nineteenth century new concepts for the training of the body emerged. At the
same time, several gymnastic cultures were developed in Northern and Central Europe,
e.g. the German Turnen, the Danish form of gymnastics promoted by Nachtegall. and the
Swedish Ling gymnastics.
This process was related to the Enlightenment, the growing
importance of rational thinking and acting, and faith in scientiﬁc thinking. The promotion
of a new sense of citizenship and nationality required a strengthening of virtues and a
reﬁning of character and manliness.
This made it possible for new concepts and ideals to
develop, including speciﬁc bodily exercise cultures.
q2015 Taylor & Francis
The International Journal of the History of Sport, 2015
Vol. 32, No. 6, 789–799, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09523367.2015.1023191
In Sweden, Per-Henrik Ling (1776 – 1839), a former fencing master, found acceptance for
his construction of a speciﬁc gymnastics system. Inspired by Rousseau and GutsMuths,
Ling wanted to provide a system based on philanthropic ideas, where the intellect could be
developed through the senses and through action. Ling’s system was based on the ‘laws of
the human organism’ – primarily knowledge gained from anatomical and physiological
studies of the human body and holistic perspectives of health. His thinking resulted in
ideas about the practising of movements and the schooling of the body. These were closely
linked to Ling’s ethical and aesthetic ideals of wholeness, expressed through balance and
symmetry. According to Ling, civic virtues could be enhanced by practising gymnastics.
One difference between Ling and GutsMuths was that even though both advocated
gymnastics based on philanthropic ideas and the basis of the human organism (knowledge
of anatomy and physiology), GutsMuths doubted if it was possible to combine these two
departure points in practice.
He chose to prioritize the pedagogical practice, whereas Ling
developed a system aiming at rationality where each exercise had its speciﬁc function.
The formal institutional setting for Swedish Ling gymnastics was established in 1813
when Ling was granted permission to start the Royal Gymnastic Central Institute (GCI),
now called The Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences (GIH). The establishment of
gymnastics as a system for bodily exercise was supported by the Swedish state. This
differed from systems in other parts in Northern and Central Europe, where gymnastics
cultures such as the German Turnen had been established and organized for actions in the
A strong reason for the establishment of the institute was the need to
strengthen Sweden’s military defence and produce ﬁt and physically equipped soldiers.
At that time Finland had been lost to Russia, and the health of Swedish citizens needed to
Ling’s idea was to develop a gymnastic system consisting of four sub-disciplines:
pedagogical, medical, military, and aesthetic. Aesthetic gymnastics, ‘whereby one
expresses the inner self: thoughts and emotions’,
was only subjected to minor
developmental attempts. According to Ling, the cultivation of the human body required an
elaborate system of different movements to promote movement control and competence.
These movements were worked out in detail with regard to the starting and ﬁnal positions
and the trajectory path and rhythm of the movement. The system included a well-reasoned
progression from easy to more complicated movements. The movements could be
performed as free-standing exercises, without support, or as exercises with the support of
gymnastic apparatus, all of which were based on the above-named aspects. The main aim
was to develop a harmonious and symmetrical body and good posture. Competition was
not included in this speciﬁc movement practice or in the praxeology. As a result, Swedish
gymnastics came to be regarded not only as a system for the purpose of educating the
whole body but also as a cure for the sick.
The impact and spread of the Swedish Ling gymnastics for the development of PE in
Europe and worldwide is impressive.
Ling gymnastics can still be seen practiced in
schools in Asia and parts of Europe. From early on gymnasts examined at the Institute
travelled abroad and set up schools and clinics for education and practice. The Ling
gymnastics (in theory and practice) was also spread by foreign students attending the
Institute. For example, the Prussian ofﬁcer Hugo Rothstein, who had been a student,
published works in the middle of the 1800s about the Ling gymnastics and launched the
education of Ling gymnastics in the Prussian army.
Systematic research about the
character and inﬂuence of the spread of the Ling gymnastics is though still limited.
790 S. Lundvall
Gymnastics for Women and Men
Right from the start Ling argued that women should also be included in this bodily
exercise, albeit in a feminine type of gymnastics. This type of gymnastics was never
actually developed by Ling himself, but was elaborated on later by his son, Hjalmar Ling,
and his daughter Hildur.
Female students were admitted to the Institute in 1864, 51 years
after the enrolment of the ﬁrst male students, to study pedagogical gymnastics and medical
gymnastics. The military gymnastics courses were never part of the female students’
education. The separate female PETE culture that was gradually established in Sweden
during the early 1900s was based on Ling gymnastics and reinforced the traditional binary
During the Institute’s ﬁrst 100 years, pedagogical and medical gymnastics
became the two most developed branches. Pedagogical gymnastics and remedial medical
gymnastics could not be separated, as it was a pre-requisite for each other. For the
becoming female practitioner this formed a trustworthy platform as she initially had
problems ﬁnding employment or a permission to open her own institute for medical
For most of the nineteenth century, being a male physiotherapist
was associated with high status, the nobility or the upper middle class, and being an ofﬁcer
in the Swedish Army.
One might wonder how the institution GCI/GIH and Swedish Ling gymnastics
survived the ﬁrst 100 years. Swedish sports historian Jan Lindroth describes the continuity
of Ling gymnastics and the institution as building on four distinct markers: the unity of the
system with its four different branches meeting several needs, its scientiﬁc base (or what
was seen as this), the ‘exclusivity’ of the system, and the ‘refusal to accept’ sport as bodily
movement exercise. These four markers held the representation of the values of Ling
gymnastics together and made it strong. The institution and the support of the state
contributed to an even more solid body.
The ﬁrst hundred years of the Institute was a century of gymnastics. This was followed
by a century characterized by the discontinuation of gymnastics as the sovereign culture
for bodily exercise and the establishment of (competitive) sport as the dominating bodily
Discontinuity and Reformation – The Second Century (from 1913 to 2013)
A period of discontinuity began in the early 1900s with the questioning of the scientiﬁc
basis of the Ling gymnastic system. The critique was primarily based on scientiﬁc studies
of a speciﬁc movement which was claimed by the Ling gymnasts to enlarge the vital
capacity of the body and thereby improve oxygen intake.
This led to reconsiderations
regarding the superiority of Ling gymnastics, which was hardly surprising, given that only
small-scale efforts had been made by GCI to increase the scientiﬁc understanding of Ling
gymnastics in terms of own knowledge production. This changed with the proposal to
establish professorships in physiology, anatomy, histology, psychology, and pedagogy,
and three in pedagogical gymnastics in 1910. However, it was not until 1938 that a
government decision led to the establishment of a professorship in the physiology of
bodily movements and hygiene.
Just before the establishment of the professorship, a conﬂict of interests between GCI
and the Karolinska Institute (KI), where medical science had its base, culminated. During
the late 1800s there had been balance of power between predecessors from the medical and
gymnastics ﬁelds. Both parts had been sanctioned by society as representing science.
As remedial gymnastics education was moved to KI in 1934, the medical ﬁeld emerged as
the scientiﬁc victor and took charge of medical gymnastics. Above all, ‘this was done to
The International Journal of the History of Sport 791
sustain the hegemonic position of KI and the orthopaedists’.
This led to a de-
masculinization of the programme and the initiation of a re-gendering process. Male
students were discretely cut off from the programme in that the admission requirements
were downgraded, and with that, any possibility of an academic career. From being a male
profession with female practitioners, physiotherapy instead became a feminized
profession without academic muscle. The loss of courses in remedial gymnastics meant
an end to the tradition and organization of the pedagogical and medical courses as one unit.
The profession of physiotherapy lost its scientiﬁc resonance as a result of these changes.
It was not until the late 1970s that the ﬁrst doctoral thesis in physiotherapy was let up in
Sweden, and remedial gymnastics, or physiotherapy, once again was accepted as a worthy
academic subject. Though, the ofﬁcial courses in physiology and anatomy were offered by
GCI to physiotherapy students until 1959.
In Sweden, the breakthrough for the establishment of the sports movement occurred
when the ﬁrst sports organization received government funding (1913), and thereby
became part of the nation’s social and moral programme.
As support grew during
the ﬁrst decades of the twentieth century, sport was gradually promoted by PETE and by
the provision of PE in schools. Even though several of the teachers at the Institute
continued to practise Ling gymnastics, there were also several advocates for sport. Victor
Balck (1844– 1928), one of the Institute’s leaders and the organizer of the Olympic Games
in Stockholm in 1912 was one of them.
Other processes were also taking place. PE educator and school inspector Elin Falk
(1872– 1942) had initiated a reformation of school gymnastics with the aim of revitalizing
traditional school gymnastics. Her ideas concerned children as becoming citizens and
what that meant in terms of the content of exercises and pedagogies.
Children should not
be looked upon as small grown-ups or military men. In focus here was the schooling of
children’s bodies and minds to support the development of an individual personality with
the will to work, take the initiative, and have a strong and well-educated body. A child
therefore needed to be stimulated by exercises that aroused imagination and interest. The
ability to balance effort and relaxation were important aspects. This new view of
pedagogical gymnastics for boys and girls led to an infected conﬂict, a battle between Falk
and her main opponent, Selle
´n, the former school inspector and newly appointed vice-
chancellor of GCI. The conﬂict dealt with how pedagogical gymnastics in Stockholm’s
elementary schools should be executed. After three years, Falk ﬁnally convinced the
school board of Stockholm and could publish her book on children’s school gymnastics.
The Institute and the support of military gymnastics under the wing of pedagogical
gymnastics had been challenged.
Another process of change was the establishment of a separate female PETE culture in
the early 1900s. This culture gradually assumed an aesthetical form of gymnastics inspired
by dance and rhythmics and the exploring of new and challenging ideas about the female
body and its relation to physicality. At that time there was what Vertinsky calls a
‘transatlantic trafﬁc’ between Europe and North America.
This was an exchange of
thoughts and methods aimed at creating space for forms of expressive movement such as
dance and aesthetic gymnastics in physical education. The rhythmical form of gymnastics
that was developed in Sweden was later regarded as the answer to Ling’s fourth branch of
gymnastics: aesthetical gymnastics. Here the core idea was to practically combine
aesthetical dimensions that could reﬁne the value of a body in motion without challenging
the notion of a feminine body. Initially, this break with the stiff traditional Lingian ﬂoor
gymnastics was opposed by groups of female PETE and PE educators.
The concept of
effort saving through body and rhythm was eventually accepted and spread by the Swedish
792 S. Lundvall
female PETE community and female gymnastics leaders. This was done under the
umbrella that aesthetical gymnastics could support health and the education of the body.
Female PETE believed in its values, not as a competitive performance but as an
educational act, developed under what could be called a gender legacy. Furthermore, what
had been developed with the aesthetical gymnastics was a new logic for bodily exercise at
In spite of the tension created by the accusation of a non-scientiﬁc bodily movement
practice, Ling gymnastics maintained its position as the main body exercise system up to
the mid-twentieth century in the compulsory school system in Sweden.
for this survival was its strong institutionalization, represented by GCI, and existing views
of the body, health, and physical culture, which constituted a strong health and hygiene
discourse aimed at overcoming things like infectious diseases and crooked and/or poor
bodily posture, together with the strengthening of one’s character through education.
This health and hygiene discourse and the former relationship between pedagogical and
physiotherapeutic gymnastics continued to give legitimacy to Swedish gymnastics.
Furthermore, led by a well-established female PETE culture this type of bodily exercise
encompassed PE for girls, which from a societal perspective suited the task of PE very
well, given that few alternatives for bodily exercise and the training of girls’ physicality
were available at that time. The gymnastics for boys and men were also well anchored in
its long tradition of military training. At that point of time, sports, for example, could not
compete with Ling gymnastics in this respect.
The spread of sport after World War II was accompanied by inﬂuences of how to
conduct physical training in an efﬁcient way. The method of Circuit training, originally
emerging from military training, came into practice in Sweden for this very reason. These
inﬂuences were accompanied by new principles relating to how the training of the body
should be planned and executed. The emergence of exercise science at the Institute
especially with regard to aerobic conditioning further legitimized sport and ﬁtness
training. The gymnastics exercises in the male PETE programme turned out to be easily
adjusted to the new principles of effective ﬁtness and strength training. During the 1960s
and 1970s, distinguished physiologists, including Erik Hohwu
¨Christensen (1904 – 1996),
˚strand (1922– 2015), and Bengt Saltin (1935 –2014) among others, were active
at the Institute.
Their research was respected and contributed to the stability of the
Institute from the 1950s and onwards. Gradually the fundamental principle of Ling
gymnastics dissolved and became less exclusive and of less value.
Sport Outmanoeuvring Gymnastics
In the 1960s and 1970s, the organization and content of the PETE programmes adapted to
the new discourses of physicality and gender roles in society. In 1966, the name changed
from the Royal Gymnastic Central Institute to Gymnastik- och idrottsho
¨gskolan, GIH (in
English; University College of Gymnastics and Sport). This also signiﬁes a shift from
gymnastics to sport and the role of Ling gymnastics. From the mid-1960s the study hours
for courses in sport began to outnumber those for gymnastics in the male and female PETE
In order to understand these changes in the physical practices of PETE, we
need to understand how sport as a physical culture spread during the nineteenth and
twentieth centuries, both in Sweden and globally. A vast amount of literature has described
how organized sport took off in the emphatic way it did. Undoubtedly, as Pﬁster notes,
there was ‘a connection between the rise of sport and the adoption of values, standards and
structures of industrialization – including rationality, technological progress, the abstract
The International Journal of the History of Sport 793
organization of time and an economy aimed at accumulation of capital’.
Linked to these
societal processes was the reformation of the public school system to adapt to the changing
ideals of manliness, where the idealization of fair play, together with an appreciation of
individual achievement, competitive in character, represented the values to be sought
After World War II the approach to school physical education changed and the need for
leaving a collective, disciplined way of the schooling of the citizens’ bodies was
emphasized; there should be less of the listening and following.
The dissolving of the
fundamental principles of Ling gymnastics – its scientiﬁc basis, its ideological ideas of body
and soul, its military drill (male PETE), and its rigid form – contributed to the gradual loss
of legitimacy during the ﬁrst half of the twentieth century. As sport started to become more
professionalized in Sweden a new educational programme developed (1966), namely a
coaching programme, for example former athletes wishing to continue their careers as
coaches. With this programme a student could combine a coaching certiﬁcate with a PE
teacher’s certiﬁcate and thereby combine sports coaching with work as a teacher.
In the late 1970s, the political quest for equal rights and employment in Sweden led to
the questioning of separate PETE programmes for male and female students. The process
of integration of the male and female PETE cultures and the sportiﬁcation process of
bodily movement practices led to a new gender order that meant not only the loss of the
female PETE gymnastics culture but also a marginalization of the female PE pedagogical
tradition in Sweden.
Furthermore, the time allotted to courses in gymnastics was
dramatically reduced after the coeducation reform in 1977. The long tradition with a
separate female PETE culture, together with compulsory school PE steering documents
advocating aesthetic gymnastics, prevented a total elimination of these courses at the
Institute. Music and movement continued to be offered, albeit as minor parts of the
coeducational PETE study programme. The implementation of a gender-neutral PE
culture and the integration of male and female PETE cultures led to a downgrading of
aesthetical values and an adaption to the male norm and patriarchal order that prevailed on
the sports ﬁeld.
From Ling Gymnastics to Sport Science
In many respects the former holding blocks that had supported the ﬁrst 100 years of the
Institute had fallen apart. This continuity had been upheld by the identity and self-
understanding of the Ling gymnastics; the unity, the uniqueness, the scientiﬁcity, and the
sports resistance. Several of these markers were no longer possible to hold on to after
World War II. New and important replacing markers were the research that the
distinguished physiological researchers with a strong connection to KI developed. This,
together with the Institute’s continued exclusivity as the only place in Sweden offering
education for PE teachers, contributed to a continued legitimacy. Other challenges
appeared towards the end of the second century, such as the academization process of
teacher education programmes in general and PETE in particular, and a politically driven
decentralization of higher education in Sweden. Within a 10-year period 16 universities
and university colleges had set up PETE programmes.
During this period, the Swedish Sports Confederation pressed for the establishment of
an autonomous sports university in Sweden. The rapid professionalization of sport and the
ongoing commercialization process required an academization of knowledge of sports
practices and the role of sport in society. Several politicians from the different political
parties also argued for the need to develop sport science as a disciplinary ﬁeld. Two state
794 S. Lundvall
investigations were set up, the ﬁrst of which did not support the establishment of an
autonomous sports university.
It was thought that the demands could be met in other ways,
such as through collaborations between university and university colleges and the
introduction of professorships insport related disciplines. Professorships were created and to
some extent cooperation was increased by the establishment of the Swedish National Centre
for Research in Sport in 1988. But the demand from politicians and the Swedish Sports
Confederation for an autonomous sports university remained. A joint effort to convince the
various political parties that an autonomous university was necessary was made and in 1990
the decision was taken by the Swedish Parliament to turn GIH into an independent university
college of sport.
This new organization was known as Stockholm University College of
Physical Education and Sports (in Swedish, Idrottsho
¨gskolan, IH). Its autonomous status also
meant a broader and new assignment. Not only was it to meet the needs of the education sector
and the sports movement, but alsoto support the growing sector of health promotion. With this
decision a third programme was introduced, namely a health pedagogy programme leading to
a bachelor’s degree. A fourth proﬁle, a sport management programme, was developed later.
In short, the transformation to an autonomous university college meant a broader assignment
and a new name, but no research funding.
The ﬁrst vice-chancellor was Professor Arne Ljungqvist (1992 – 1996), at that time
chairman of the Swedish Sports Confederation and a professor at KI. He immediately
highlighted the difﬁculties of providing education in sport science without the allocation
of resources for research and a struggle for both research funding and full examination
rights ensued. In the meantime, research had largely to be conducted as before – in
cooperation with KI, Stockholm University (SU) and the former Higher Institute of
Teacher Education (now part of SU). In parallel with the application for extended
academic degrees, an internal discussion continued about what higher education in sport
science implied. Was the academic subject of sport/sport science a subject in its own right
and supported by other already established subjects such as physiology, biomechanics,
history, pedagogy, and sociology, or was it a ﬁeld in which traditional academic subjects
engaged in research questions emanating from the sports ﬁeld? Another challenge was
how to manage the practical sports courses and their scientiﬁc basis.
A Disagreement in Modern Time
Coming to the twenty-ﬁrst century the Institute has been challenged by actors outside the
ﬁeld of sport science and academic disciplines related to sports, such as the medical ﬁeld
with its strong public health tradition. Bodily exercise is no longer a concept – or a
phenomenon –belonging solely to the ﬁeld of PE, sport, and sport science. New
perspectives on physical activity have begun to spread that challenge beyond the former
thinking of sport education as the key to a lifelong physically active lifestyle.
respects this way of thinking about citizens’ needs for physical activity reﬂects former
medical arguments concerning the prevention of disease and the curing of the sick that had
been put forward some 200 years earlier. Once again, the beneﬁts of physical exercise for
the health of the nation appear on the agenda. However, it is too early to say how the
construction of knowledge around everyday physical activity will be represented in higher
education in the subject of sport science and in research. The same goes for how sport
within the educational sector, as part of a broader ﬁeld of physical culture, will develop in
terms of new or renewed bodily movement practices both in general and globally.
One of the challenges for a small university college is to retain its exclusivity and
secure what today is called a ‘trademark’. In 2005, the government agreed that the name of
The International Journal of the History of Sport 795
the university college could be reset to Gymnastik- och idrottsho
¨gskolan with the acronym
GIH (translated in English to the Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences). This was
seen as a strategic marker that could communicate both a long and strong tradition and the
ambition to reclaim its former unique status. Another sought after distinction was the
ability to offer full academic degrees, including PhDs, in the area of sport, physical
activity, and health. This was achieved in 2010, and led to a change of strategy at GIH that
allowed space for physical activity and health to have a more deﬁned proﬁle. Today GIH is
organized around three knowledge areas: performance and training, physical activity and
health, and (sports) culture and learning.
Holding Blocks for the Next Hundred Years
In many ways the circle is now closed. In one sense GIH continues to build on the ideal
advocated by Ling more than 200 years ago, namely to promote health seen as a wholeness.
Thus, an old institution meets a new century with a somewhat broader agenda. Master’s
degree courses for physiotherapists have also been reinstated. Nowadays the cornerstones are
full examination rights, well-established research in several subjects within sport science, and
a continuing stream of applications to courses.
Society still requires knowledge about the
effects of physical exercise on health and character in a broad sense and how this can be
implemented in practice. One growing tension is how to balance the old conﬂict between the
ideals of competitive performance (the logic of competition) and the more philanthropic ideas
of educating body and physicality for a lifelong learning of physical activity and health. The
Lingian system represented a symbolic rationality; a form of social engineering that attracted
politicians and decisionmakers.
Today, sport in its more specializedform is less attractive to
government ministers looking for solutions to society’s problems. It is thus not only physical
inactivity that has to be confronted. An increasedsegregation and diversity in society brings its
own challenges and adds to the issues that sport science needs to grapple with. The enactment
of gender in gender separate sports disciplines is contested, and the way in which sport
contributes to the enacting of gender is also disputed.
GIH has a long tradition of continuity as well as experiences of discontinuity. In the
ﬁrst hundred years Ling gymnastics provided a legitimate system for the schooling of the
body and the promotion of health, as well as the rehabilitation of the sick. This resulted in
strong markers of exclusivity that held the institution together. In the century that followed
the cornerstones of the Institute were of a scientiﬁc nature: exercise science research
followed by research areas in sport science, a strong female PETE culture until the end of
the 1970s and the embracing of sports education. The spread of sport as a cultural
phenomenon contributed to a request for sport science that GIH could manage. Another
important marker during this second century was the establishment of the Institute as an
autonomous university college with full academic degrees and a broader assignment to
meet society’s continued need for knowledge and practice of how to support healthy
citizens. The beginning of GIH’s third century encompasses a growing tension of how to
address a changing society, the conﬂicting dimensions of (competitive) sport and the more
philanthropic ideas of body and physicality. New markers or holding blocks for the
coming years are still to be discerned.
No potential conﬂict of interest was reported by the author.
796 S. Lundvall
Notes on Contributor
Suzanne Lundvall is associate professor in Sport Science at the Swedish School of Sport and Health
Sciences, GIH. She has currently been working as editor for a historical overview of GIH’s 200th
anniversary with a special focus on the last 25 years.
1. See, for example, Gertrud Pﬁster, ‘Cultural Confrontations: German Turnen, Swedish
Gymnastics and English Sport – European Diversity in Physical Activities from a Historical
Perspective’, Culture, Sport, Society 6, no. 1 (2003), 61 – 91; Jan Lindroth, Ling – fra
¨sning i svensk gymnastikhistoria 1800 – 1950 [Ling – From Grandness to Decline in
the Swedish History of Gymnastics] (Eslo
¨v, Sweden: Brutus O
2. This is discussed from a history of ideas perspective in works by Jens Ljunggren, ‘The
Masculine Road through Modernity: Ling Gymnastics and Male Socialization in Nineteenth-
Century Sweden’, in J. A. Mangan (ed.), Making European Masculinities: Sport, Europe,
Gender (London: Frank Cass, 2000), 86 – 111. Jens Ljunggren, ‘Gymnastik, nation och
manlighet – grundandet av Gymnastiska Centralinstitutet 1813’, in Hans Bolling and Leif
Yttergren (eds), 200 a
˚r av kroppsbildning: Gymnastiska Centralinstitutet/Gymnastik- och
¨gskolan 1813– 2013 (Stockholm: GIH, 2013), 59 – 75; Jens Ljunggren,‘Kroppens
bildning – Linggymnastikens manlighetsprojekt 1790 – 1914’ (PhD diss., Stockholm
3. See, for example, Else Trangbæck, ‘Sally Ho
¨m og det moderne kvindeprojekt’ in Hans
Bolling and Leif Yttergren (eds), 200 a
˚r av kroppsbildning: Gymnastiska Centralinstitutet/
Gymnastik- och idrottsho
¨gskolan 1813– 2013 (Stockholm: GIH, 2013), 133 – 59.
4. Ljunggren, ‘The Masculine Road through Modernity’, 86–111; Ljunggren, ‘Gymnastik, nation
och manlighet’, 59–75.
5. Per Henrik Ling, Gymnastikens allma
¨nna grunder [The general foundations of Gymnastics]
(Facsimile ed.) (Stockholm: Svenska Gymnastikfo
¨rbundet, 1840/1979), 50, see also 54f.
6. The spread of the Ling gymnastics is described by, for example, Lindroth, Ling – fra
¨sning i svensk gymnastikhistoria. See also, for example, Anders Ottosson,
‘Sjukgymnasten – vart tog han va
¨gen?’ [The physiotherapist – What Happened to Him? A
Study of the Masculinization and De-masculinization of the Physiotherapy Profession 1813 –
1934] (PhD diss., Acta Universitatis Gothoburgensis, 2005); Sheila Fletcher, Women First: The
Female Tradition in English Physical Education 1880 – 1980 (London: Athlone Press, 1984);
Roland Naul, ‘Physical and Health education in Germany – From School Sport to Local
Networks for Healthy Children in Sound Communities’, in Ming-Kai Chin and Christopher R.
Edgington (eds), Physical Education and Health: Perspectives and Best Practice (Urbana, IL:
Sagamore, 2014), 191–202, to mention a few.
7. Lindroth, Ling – fra
˚n storhet till upplo
¨sning i svensk gymnastikhistoria.
8. See, for example, Barbro Carli, ‘The Making and Breaking of the Female Culture. The History
of Swedish Physical Education “in a Different Voice”’ (PhD diss., Gothenburg University,
9. Carli, ‘The Making and Breaking of the Female Culture’; see also Fletcher, Women First;
Suzanne Lundvall, ‘Crossing of Boundaries – The Sharing of a Gender Neutral PE-Culture?’,
Sport in Society: Cultures, Commerce, Media, Politics, submitted.
10. See note 9 above.
11. Ottosson,‘Sjukgymnasten – vart tog han va
12. Lindroth, Ling – fra
˚n storhet till upplo
¨sning i svensk gymnastikhistoria.
13. Peter Schantz, ‘Om Lindhardskolan och dess betydelse i ett svensk perspektiv’ [The Lindhard
School and Its Inﬂuence from a Swedish Perspective], in Anne Lykke Poulsen (ed.), Forskning
i bevaegelse: Ett nytt forskningsfelt i et 100-a
˚rigt perspektiv [Research in Human Movement:
A New Research Field in a 100-Year Perspective] (Ko
¨penhamn, Danmark: Museum
Tusculanums Forlag, Ko
¨penhamns universitet, 2009), 137– 67; J. Lindhard, ‘U
¨ber den einﬂuss
einiges gymnastischen Stellung auf den Brustkast’ [On the Effect of Some Gymnastic Positions
on the Thorax], Skandinavischen Arkiv fu
¨r Physiologie 47 (1926), 188 – 261; Benkt
¨derbergh, ‘P.H. Ling i gungning. En strid pa
˚1940-talet om Linggymnastikens fo
H. Ling Under Attack. A 1940s Battle on Ling Gymnastics’ Past], in Jan Lindroth (ed.), Idrott,
The International Journal of the History of Sport 797
Historia och Samha
¨lle, Svenska Idrottshistoriska fo
˚rsskrift [The Annual
Publication of the Swedish Sports History Association], SVIF-Nytt 4 (1996), 100 – 117.
14. Schantz, ‘Om Lindhardskolan och dess betydelse i ett svensk perspektiv’.
15. Ottosson, ‘Sjukgymnasten – vart tog han va
16. Suzanne Lundvall and Jane Meckbach, ‘Ett a
¨mne i ro
¨relse – gymnastik fo
¨r kvinnor och ma
¨rarutbildningen vid Gymnastiska Centralinstitutet/Gymnastik- och idrottsho
˚ren 1944–1992’ [A Subject in Motion – Gymnastics in the PETE Program at the Royal
Central Institute of Gymnastics/GIH during the Period 1944 – 1992] (PhD diss., Stockholm
17. See, for example, Johan Norberg, Idrottens va
¨g till folkhemmet. Studier i statlig idrottspolitik
1913–1970 (Stockholm: SISU idrottsbo
¨cker, 2004); Henning Eichberg and Sigmund Loland
‘Nordic Sports – From Social Movements via Emotional Bodily Movement – and Back
Again’, Sport in Society: Cultures, Commerce, Media, Politics 13, no. 4 (2010), 679 – 90;
Lindroth, Ling – fra
˚n storhet till upplo
¨sning i svensk gymnastikhistoria.
18. Elin Falk, Gymnastikfra
˚gan vid Stockholms folkskolor [The Question of Pedagogical
Gymnastics in Stockholm’s Elementary Schools] (Stockholm: Palmquists AB, 1913). See also
Pia Lundquist Wanneberg, ‘Falk, GCI och fo
¨llningar om barnet – en analys av
gymnastikstriden vid Stockholms folkskolor 1910– 1913’ [Falk, GCI and Conceptions of the
Child], in Hans Bolling and Leif Yttergren (eds), 200 a
˚r av kroppsbildning:Gymnastiska
Centralinstitutet/Gymnastik- och idrottsho
¨gskolan 1813– 2013 (Stockholm: GIH, 2013), 109 –
19. Elin Falk, Gymnastik med lek och idrott. [Gymnastics with Play and Sport] (Stockholm: PA.
Norstedts & So
¨rlag, 1927). See also Falk, Gymnastikfra
˚gan vid Stockholms folkskolor;
Lundvall, ‘Crossing of Boundaries’.
20. See, for example, Patricia Vertinsky, ‘Transatlantic Trafﬁc in Expressive Movement: From
Delsarte and Dalcroze to Margaret H’Doubler and Rudolf Laban’, The International Journal of
the History of Sport 6, no. 13 (2009), 2013 – 51.
21. For more detail see Lundvall and Meckbach ‘Ett a
¨mne i ro
¨relse’. The dissertation examines the
development through both document analysis and visual analysis of ﬁlm materials. See also
Leena Laine, ‘In Search of a Physical Culture for Women – Women’s Movement and Culture
in Everyday Life; Elli Bjo
´n’s Heritage Today’, Scandinavian Journal of Sports Sciences
11, no. 1 (1989), 15 – 27; Louise Wikstro
¨m,‘Rytmikens genombrott i gymnastiken’,
¨reningen GCI Annual Publication (1936), 43– 6; Cecilia Forsman and Kerstin Moberg,
¨de i den svenska gymnastiken. [The Introduction of Rhythmics in Swedish
¨rarlinjen 1990:6 (Stockholm: Gymnastik- och idrottsho
22. Pia Lundquist Wanneberg, ‘Kroppens medborgarfostran: Kropp, klass och genus i skolans
fysiska fostran 1919–1962’ (PhD diss., Stockholm University, 2004).
23. Eva Palmblad and Bengt-Erik Eriksson, Kropp och politik: Ha
˚n 30-tal till 90-tal [Body and Politics: Health Education from the 1930s
to the 1990s as a Mirror of Society] (Stockholm: Carlssons, 1995).
24. Schantz, ‘Om Lindhardskolan och dess betydelse i ett svensk perspektiv’.
25. Lundvall and Meckbach ‘Ett a
¨mne i ro
26. Gertrud Pﬁster, ‘Cultural Confrontations’, Culture, Sport, Society 6, no. 1 (2003), 71.
27. See, for example, J. A. Mangan, Athleticism in Victorian and Edwardian Public Schools
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981); J. A. Mangan, ‘Social Darwinism, Sport and
English Upper Class Education in Late Victorian and Edvardian England’, The International
Journal of the History of Sport, 27, nos 1– 2 (2010), 78 – 97.
28. Lindroth, Ling – fra
˚n storhet till upplo
¨sning i svensk gymnastikhistoria, 18.
29. See Carli, ‘The Making and Breaking of the Female Culture’; Lundvall and Meckbach ‘Ett
¨mne i Ro
¨relse’. For corresponding changes in other countries, see, for example, David Kirk,
Physical Education Futures (London: Routledge, 2010); Janice Wright,‘Mapping Discourses
of Physical Education: Articulating a Female Tradition’, Journal of Curriculum Studies 28, no.
3 (1996), 331–51; Sheila Scraton, Shaping Up to Womanhood: Gender and Girls’ Physical
Education (Buckingham:Open University Press, 1992); Mary O’Sullivan, K. Bush, and
M. Gehring, ‘Gender Equity and Physical Education: A USA Perspective’, in Dawn Penney
(ed.), Gender and Physical Education: Contemporary Issuesand Future Directions (London:
Routledge, 2002), 163–89.
798 S. Lundvall
30. See, for example, Gertrud Pﬁster, ‘Women in Sport – Gender Relations and Future
Perspectives’, Sport in Society: Culture, Commerce, Media, Politics 13, no. 2 (2010), 234 – 48;
Margaret A. Hall, Feminism and Sporting Bodies. Essays on Theory and Practice (Champaign,
IL: Human Kinetics, 1996); Jennifer Hargreaves, Sporting Females: Critical Issues in the
History and Sociology of Women’s Sports (London: Routledge, 1994); Eva Olofsson, ‘The
Discursive Construction of Gender in Physical Education in Sweden, 1945– 2003: Is Meeting
the Learner’s Needs Tantamount to Meetings the Market’s Need’, European Physical
Education Review 1, no. 3 (2005), 219 – 38; Suzanne Lundvall and Peter Schantz, ‘Physical
Activities and Their Relation to Physical Education: A 200-Year Perspective and Future
Challenges’, Global Journal of Health and Physical Education Pedagogy 2, no. 1 (2013), 1 –
16. For a discussion of gender and scientiﬁc perspectives, see, for example, Ha
˚kan Larsson and
Suzanne Lundvall, ‘Who Decides How Sportswomen Should Look and Behave? Towards a
Gendersensitive Critical Approach’ in Women and Sports. ScientiﬁcReport Series, no. 1,
(Stockholm: SISU, 2014), http://www.sisuidrottsbocker.se/Global/Kvinnor%20och%20idrott/
31. SOU 1987: 70. Idrottens forskning och ho
¨gre utbildning, [State investigation; Sport research
and higher education], and SOU 1990:3. En idrottsho
¨gskolestruktur, organisation och resurser
¨r en sja
˚de [State investigation; A structure,organisation
and resources for an autonomous university college within the area of sport].
32. Government Bill 1990/91: 100, bil 10. Beslut om idrottsho
¨gskolan i Stockholm [Decision on
Stockholm University College of Sport].
33. Suzanne Lundvall (ed.), Fra
˚n Kungl. Gymnastiska Centralinstitutet till Gymnastik- och idrotts-
¨gskolan 1813–2013, en betraktelse av de senaste 25 a
˚ren som del av en 200-a
[From Royal Gymnastic Central Institute to The Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences
1813–2013 – A Consideration of the Past 25 Years as Part of a 200-Year History] (Danaga
Lithio, Stockholm: GIH), in press.
34. See, for example, Barbara Ainsworth, ‘Movement, Mobility and Public Health’, Quest 57,
(2005), 2–23; T. L. McKenzie and others, ‘Effects on of a Physical Education Program on
Children’s Manipulative Skills’ Journal of Teaching in Physical Education 17 (1998), 327 –
41; William P. Morgan, ‘Prescription of Physical Activity: A Paradigm Shift’, Quest 53 (2000),
366–82; Peter Schantz and Suzanne Lundvall, ‘Changing Perspectives on Physical Education
in Sweden – Implementing Dimensions of Public Health and Sustainable Development’, in
Ming-Kai Chin and Christopher R. Edgington (eds), Physical Education and Health:
Perspectives and Best Practice (Urbana, IL: Sagamore, 2014), 463 – 76.
35. Lundvall, Fra
˚n Kungl. Gymnastiska Centralinstitutet till Gymnastik- och idrotts- ho
Today (2015) GIH has around 800 students, seven professors, and seven associate professors.
36. Ibid. Research at the university college covers studies of physical activity/inactivity, elite
training in sport, early selection and specialization, relations of intimacy and gender, active
transportation and sustainability, PETE education, and school PE.
37. See Ljunggren, ‘Gymnastik, nation och manlighet’.
38. See, for example, Pﬁster, ‘Women in Sport’.
The International Journal of the History of Sport 799