Nelly Kim: "Gymnastics and chess is the harmony of mind and body"

Among the tasks that I, as Vice President of the International Federation of Gymnastics (IFG), have to solve the most important is the further development of our sport and attracting the new followers and adherents.

Like many other sports federations, including FIDE, we aim at uniting, or rather, synthesizing different sports. Thus, we have already decided to take parkour under our wing.

Let me remind you that this is an extreme and not universally recognized sport, which is the speedy overcoming of obstacles in urban conditions. Parkour requires thorough strength training, courage, determination, excellent response and flexibility.
Since parkour fans are mostly young people, who do not really care about security and who cannot calculate the risk, this hobby often leads to injuries. The involvement of professional gymnasts will make parkour safer and more popular.
But this is one of those decisions that are obvious. However, what if we combine gymnastics and chess?
This idea may seem strange at first glance only. Actually, chess and gymnastics have much more in common than it seems. Gymnastics is one of those sports, which, at the initial stage, does not require halls equipped with expensive equipment or large areas like football. Nothing is needed but desire. This is called "Gymnastics for all".
Chess is totally accessible to anyone. And, like chess, gymnastics is not only a sport, but also an art.
Secondly, chess develops brain just like gymnastics develops body. No wonder Einstein called it "the only way to train the brain muscle."
FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov constantly says that chess helps to achieve success in such sports as boxing and football due to the players’ ability to foresee a situation and anticipate the reaction of partners and rivals.
Another famous Russian physician and educator Peter Lesgaft established a positive relationship between gymnastics and intellectual development. Our children’s trainers invariably note that sporting successes go hand in hand with success in their studies.
If you take it into account, you would be surprised that no one has yet guessed to combine and develop these sports. After all, there are statistics of the World Health Organization, which shows that life expectancy is constantly increasing.
This is due to both the success of medicine and overall increase in the quality of life of people. Today, the average life expectancy has already reached 79-80 years in countries, such as the United States and Japan, and people will be able to live for up to 100 years in 30-40 years from now!
Is it good? Yes, it seems to be yes. But how many people manage to keep physical activity and flexibility of joints by 80 years old? Alas, the majority of people reach their 70th anniversary burdened with all sorts of diseases. Intellect also decreases with age. Medicine is not yet able to solve this problem.
In many respects this is due to the fact that an average person neglects his health in his youth. Today, gym, swimming pool, bicycle and skates are becoming as familiar and necessary as the daily shower, but, unfortunately, this is not exactly what you need.
Gymnastics for different age groups and intellectual games like chess is what a person should be engaged in throughout his life. Of course, provided that he wants to live a fulfilling and healthy life up to 100 and 150 years (scientists believe that it is quite possible).
I hope that many understand that the synthesis of gymnastics and chess is not only possible, but it has long been needed as a means of improving the quality of human life.
A man can practice gymnastics three days a week and play chess three other days in the same gym. He can do gymnastics and then play chess or vice versa every day. The change of physical and mental activity is welcomed by science. We will benefit from doing it for an hour a day (we spend much more time watching TV) for decades to come.
Of course, this idea cannot be ordered by government or by adopting another law (although government can play a role in its promotion). We should make it attractive to people and make it widespread, as Kirsan Ilyumzhinov managed to make chess popular again.
One of the first steps could be an illustrative chess match with the participation of the Olympic Champion in gymnastics, the record holder of the Guinness book Vitaly Scherbo. He devotes all his free time to playing chess.
It would be nice if a brilliant chess player Sergey Karyakin, who, as I know, devotes much time to physical sports, agreed to participate in this match.
Most science fiction writers describe people of the future as harmoniously developed and athletic build intellectuals. The heroes of these books are able to calculate the trajectories of interplanetary flights and bravely fight with extra-terrestrial predators.
However, the third millennium has come and we are not an inch closer to that ideal. So maybe it's time to start consciously raising a new generation the way we want it to be? Physically healthy and smart people.
We already have tools for this -- gymnastics and chess. All that remains is to unite them and make a truly mass synthesis of mind and body.

Editorial note. Nelly Kim is a famous gymnast, five-time Olympic Champion and five-time World Champion. She is the Vice President of the International Federation of Gymnastics.