Women’s Gymnastics Leotards: Everything You Need to Know
Gymnastics is a graceful physical sport that requires a lot of energy and effort. Other than strenuous practice, skill, and hard work, another thing that makes or breaks a gymnast’s performance is their leotards.
With how graceful these outfits are, there are a couple of things you can know about them. In this article, we will tell you some interesting facts about leotards - the outfit the monopolizes woman gymnasts’ wardrobe and the gymnast activewear market.
What Are Leotards?
Leotards were first introduced by Jules Leotard, a French Acrobat. He found the necessity of adding flexibility and breathability to men's activewear and hence in the 1920s, created a costume made of spandex.
This costume came to be known eponymously by the creator as Leotards. These one-piece garments are skin-tight and cover the entire torso from the shoulder to the crotch. All leotards are either sleeveless or have a short sleeve that cannot interrupt the gymnast's performance. However, sleeveless gymnastics leotards are generally preferred.
As woman's gymnastics started gaining prominence, leotards started shifting from men's activewear to the unisex market. Today, most of the leotards you will find will be exclusively for women since open back leotards, and girls gym leotards have become the need of the hour.
A longer, more elaborate version of leotards is called unitard. Unitards cover both the torso and the legs. They can be thought of as a jumpsuit but made of spandex or other stretchy, skin-fit fabrics.
What Are the Benefits of Wearing Leotards?
There is a reason why leotards have become so popular among gymnasts around the globe. Some of the prominent benefits of wearing leotards are:
- Lightweight: Leotards are made of fabric such as spandex with is incredibly lightweight and breathable, allowing you the ease of movement.
- Form-Fitting: Leotards are characteristically form-fitting. Therefore, they seem to be like a second skin to the gymnast, allowing them to be free in their movements.
- Confidence Boosting: The form and shape of a leotard itself are such that it puts you into a mode to perform, allowing better performance.
Who Wears Leotards?
Leotards were initially created by men in acrobats. However, girls gym leotards are the new norm. In recent times, even though a leotard is considered a unisex garment, it is usually women who are visible wearing leotards.
Yong girls start wearing leotards when they are beginning their training as a gymnast. However, women wear an open back leotards, or any custom-made fit.
Men in acrobats still wear leotards. However, that trend is slowly becoming rare.
The Common Fabrics Leotards are Made of
Most leotards are generally made of spandex because the fabric is skin-fitting and allows maximum flexibility and breathability. However, other fabrics these outfits are made of are:
- Velvet, Metallic Fabrics
Some leotards can also be embellished with metallic jewels and rhinestones.
How Long Does It take to Design Professional Leotards?
If you are only starting out with gymnastics, you can find leotards in just about any size and pre-made form. However, if you are looking for leotards word by professional gymnasts such as the U.S. gymnastics team, one leotard can take up to two years to design and produce.
But why is that? Well, the reason for that is multifold:
- Professional or custom leotards are supposed to be made specifically to the gymnast’s body size. For professional quality purposes, their measures are taken over a couple of weeks to check for any discrepancies.
- Only the newest fabrics can be used to create professional leotards, and procuring them can be time-consuming.
- Each leotard has to be tear-tested with specialized equipment to avoid any wardrobe malfunction.
- Before the leotard reaches the professional gymnast, it has to be wash-tested.
- Each leotard will have to go through multiple wear tests and check for flexibility and breathability.
All the above-given points might seem too much. However, if you are creating a leotard for someone who needs to wear it in the Olympics, nothing can be risked!
There is so much to gymnastics that the leotard might not get as much attention. However, considering how popular this activewear is, it is hard to believe how little people know about it!
While the props and practice play an important role in the gymnast's performance, it is also due to a well-crafted leotard that performance can be made or broken.