• Laura de Oliveira School of Physical Education and Sport of Ribeirão Preto, University of São Paulo, Brazil
  • Vítor Ricci Costa Faculty of Physical Education, University of Campinas, Brazil
  • Kizzy Fernandes Antualpa Faculty of Education, Federal University of Bahia, Brazil
  • Myrian Nunomura School of Physical Education and Sport of Ribeirão Preto, University of São Paulo, Brazil; Faculty of Physical Education, University of Campinas, Brazil



young athletes, rhythmic gymnastics, body dissatisfaction


This study aims to identify whether competitive rhythmic gymnasts feel body dissatisfaction and, if so, to analyze the factors related to its development and the implications for the gymnasts’ health. We interviewed 28 female gymnasts, aged between 13 and 16 years, from three teams in one Brazilian state. Based on the thematic analysis, we present the following themes: “Body, Performance, and Misconceptions in Rhytmic Gymnastics (RG)” and “Body weight in RG: Belief vs. Science.” Gymnasts’ dissatisfaction with their bodies appears to be influenced by their coaches, judges, and other athletes, who reinforce the existence of an established “ideal” body type in this sport. The athletes seem to believe that this body ideal would help them in the movements execution in the judges’ evaluation, and would, therefore, influence competitive performance. Their coaches used body mass measured on a set of scales as a reference for controlling and guiding weight loss. To lose weight at all costs, the gymnasts mentioned that they took laxatives and adhered to self-imposed calorie restriction. Excessive pressure to lose weight and obtain results could lead to or maintain body dissatisfaction and damage gymnasts’ health. Thus, coaches must be careful when associating weight loss with better performance; they need to consider the individuality of gymnasts and should not generalize them. Moreover, professional monitoring should be adopted, as well as the use of reliable and justified body evaluation methods. Preventive measures and coach education should also be implemented, and official agencies should regulate and punish any excessive and abusive practices.


Download data is not yet available.


Agostini, R. B., & Aleksandrovna Novikova, L. (2015). Ginástica Rítmica: do contexto educacional à iniciação ao alto rendimento. (1st ed.). São Paulo: Fontoura.

Amorim, M. G. A. (2019). Perturbações do comportamento alimentar e a ginástica de alta competição Perturbações do comportamento alimentar e a ginástica de alta competição. Universidade do Porto.

Antualpa, K. F., Moraes, H., Schiavon, L. M., De Arruda, A. F. S., & Moreira, A. (2015). Carga interna de treinamento e respostas comportamentais em jovens ginastas. Revista Da Educacao Fisica, 26(4), 583–592.

Ávila-Carvalho, L., Klentrou, P., Palomero, M. da L., & Lebre, E. (2012). Body composition profile of elite group rhythmic gymnasts. Science of Gymnastics Journal, 4(1), 21–32.

Batista, A. (2019). Desempenho em Ginástica Rítmica: Estudo das características biológicas, motoras e estruturais. University of Porto.

Boaventura, P. L. B. (2016). Técnica, Estética, Educação : Os usos do corpo na Ginática Rítmica. Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina.

Bobo-Arce, M., & Méndez-Rial, B. (2013). Determinants of competitive performance in rhythmic gymnastics. a review. Journal of Human Sport and Exercise, 8(3), 711–727.

Bobo, M., & Sierra, E. (1998). Ximnasia Rítmica Deportiva - Adestramento e competición. Sanatiago de Compostela: LEA.

Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3(2), 77–101.

Conti, M. A., Frutuoso, M. F. P., & Gambardella, A. M. D. (2005). Excesso de peso e insatisfação corporal em adolescentes. Revista de Nutrição, 18(4), 491–497.

de Bruin, A. P. (Karin., Oudejans, R. R. D., & Bakker, F. C. (2007). Dieting and body image in aesthetic sports: A comparison of Dutch female gymnasts and non-aesthetic sport participants. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 8(4), 507–520.

Donti, O., Bogdanis, G. C., Kritikou, M., Donti, A., & Theodorakou, K. (2016). The relative contribution of physical fitness to the technical execution score in youth rhythmic gymnastics. Journal of Human Kinetics, 50(2), 143–152.

Douda, H., Laparidis, K., & Tokmakidis, S. P. (2002). Long-Term training induces specific adaptations on the physique of rhythmic sports and female artistic gymnasts. European Journal of Sport Science, 2(3), 1–13.

Fédération Internationale de Gymnastique (FIG). (2020). 2017-2020 Code of Points Rhythmic Gymnastics. Retrieve from FIG website:

Fernandez-Villarino, M. A., Bobo-Arce, M., & Sierra-Palmeiro, E. (2013). Practical skills of rhythmic gymnastics judges. Journal of Human Kinetics, 39(1), 243–249.

Flament, M. F., Hill, E. M., Buchholz, A., Henderson, K., Tasca, G. A., & Goldfield, G. (2012). Internalization of the thin and muscular body ideal and disordered eating in adolescence: The mediation effects of body esteem. Body Image, 9(1), 68–75.

Francisco, R., Alarcão, M., & Narciso, I. (2012). Aesthetic Sports as High-Risk Contexts for Eating Disorders — Young Elite Dancers and Gymnasts Perspectives. The Spanish Journal of Psychology, 15(1), 265–274.

Johns, D. P., & Johns, J. S. (2000). Surveillance, subjectivism and technologies of power. International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 32(2), 219–234.

Kaur, K., & Koley, S. (2019). Antropometric determinants of competitive performance in gymnastics: A systematic review. International Journal of Health Sciences and Research, 9(7), 249–256.

Kerr, G., Berman, E., & De Souza, M. J. (2006). Disordered eating in women’s gymnastics: Perspectives of athletes, coaches, parents, and judges. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 18(1), 28–43.

Kerr, G., & Dacyshyn, A. (2000). The retirement experiences of elite, female gymnasts. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 12(2), 115–133.

Kosmidou, E., Proios, M., Giannitsopoulou, E., Siatras, T., Doganis, G., Proios, M., … Fachantidou-Tsiligiroglou, A. (2015). Evaluation of an intervention program on body esteem, eating attitudes and pressure to be thin in rhythmic gymnastics athletes. Science of Gymnastics Journal, 7(3), 23–36.

Krentz, E. M., & Warschburger, P. (2013). A longitudinal investigation of sports-related risk factors for disordered eating in aesthetic sports. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports, 23(3), 303–310.

Leandro, C., Ávila-Carvalho, L., Sierra-Palmeiro, E., & Bobo-Arce, M. (2017). Judging in Rhythmic Gymnastics at Different Levels of Performance. Journal of Human Kinetics, 60(1), 159–165.

Matias da Costa Pereira, H. C., & Nascimento de Medeiros, R. M. (2016). Ginástica rítmica, um entrelaçamento entre corpo e técnica. Motrivivência, 28(48), 265.

Mountjoy, M., Sundgot-Borgen, J. K., Burke, L. M., Ackerman, K. E., Blauwet, C., Constantini, N., … Budgett, R. (2018). IOC consensus statement on relative energy deficiency in sport (RED-S): 2018 update. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 52(11), 687–697.

Parviainen, T., Parviainen, K., Kesänen, J., & Törnroos, J. (2018). The aim of this thesis was to find and describe the risk factors, prevention and intervention of eating disorders.

Popovic, R. (2000). International Bias Detected in Judging Rhythmic Gymnastics Competition At Sydney-2000 Olympic Games. / Internacionalna Pristrasnost Zapazena Kod Sudenja Takmicenja U Ritmickoj Gimnastici Na Olimpijskim Igrama “Sidnej 2000”. Facta Universitatis: Series Physical Education & Sport, 1(7), 1–13.

Porpino, K. de O. (2004). Treinamento da ginástica rítmica: reflexões estéticas. Revista Brasileira de Ciencias Do Esporte, 26(1), 121–133.

Purenović-Ivanović, T., Popović, R., Bubanj, S., & Stanković, R. (2019). Body composition in high-level female rhythmic gymnasts of different age categories. Science and Sports, 34(3), 141–148.

Rosen, L. W., & Hough, D. O. (1988). Pathogenic weight-control behaviors of female college gymnasts. Physician and Sportsmedicine, 16(9).

Sangenis, P., Drinkwater, B. L., Loucks, A. B., Sherman, R. T., Sundgot-Borgen, J., & Thompson, R. A. (2005). Position Stand on The Female Athlete triad: IOC Medical Commission Working Group Women in Sport. 46. Retrieved from

Santos, K. P. dos. (2019). Ginástica Rítmica: Questão em torno do corpo ideal no contexto amazônico. Universidade Federal do Amazonas - UFAM.

Sundgot-Borgen, J., & Garthe, I. (2011). Elite athletes in aesthetic and Olympic weight-class sports and the challenge of body weight and body composition. Journal of Sports Sciences, 29(SUPPL. 1).

Sundgot-Borgen, J., Garthe, I., & Meyer, N. (2013). Energy Needs and Weight Management for Gymnasts. Gymnastics, 51–59.

Thompson, R. A., & Trattner Sherman, R. (1993). Reducing the risk of eating disorders in athletics. Eating Disorders, 1(1), 65–78.

Tracy, S. J. (2010). Qualitative quality: Eight a"big-tent" criteria for excellent qualitative research. Qualitative Inquiry, 16(10), 837–851.

Triviños, A. N. S. (1987). Introdução à Pesquisa em Ciências Sociais: a Pesquisa Qualitativa em Educação – O Positivismo, A Fenomenologia, O Marxismo. In TRIVIÑOS, Augusto Nibaldo Silva. Introdução à Pesquisa em Ciências Sociais: a Pesquisa Qualitativa em Educação – O Positivismo, A Fenomenologia, O Marxismo. São Paulo: Atlas S.A.ção.v1i20.2335

van Bokhorst, L. G., Knapová, L., Majoranc, K., Szebeni, Z. K., Táborský, A., Tomić, D., & Cañadas, E. (2016). “It’s always the judge’s fault”: Attention, emotion recognition, and expertise in rhythmic gymnastics assessment. Frontiers in Psychology, 7(7).

Wiltshire Viana, D. F., & Mezzaroba, C. (2013). O esporte de alto rendimento faz mal à saúde? Uma análise das atletas da seleção brasileira de ginástica rítmica. Motrivivência, 0(41), 190–205.




How to Cite

Oliveira, L. de, Costa, V. R., Antualpa, K. F., & Nunomura, M. (2021). BODY AND PERFORMANCE IN RHYTHMIC GYMNASTICS: SCIENCE OR BELIEF?. Science of Gymnastics Journal, 13(3), 311–321.




Most read articles by the same author(s)