Between the 1910s and the 1960s, vigorous exercise was considered bad for women and their reproductive health, said Jane Rogers, a curator at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.
"Even physicians thought strenuous exercise was bad for women since women were supposed to become wives and mothers," she said. "Sports might physically injure women and leave them unable to perform their housework. Women competed, but were not afforded the same opportunities as their male counterparts."
Women's floor routines are scored on artistic as well as athletic elements
The rules governing gymnastics state that women's routines must last 90 seconds -- 20 seconds longer than the men -- and feature music throughout.
Over the years, the music has evolved. In the 1960s, the rule was only one instrument could be used, so teams brought in their own live pianist, Cervin said. Then in the 1980s, cassette tapes were allowed, which expanded the types of music gymnasts could use in their floor routines.
One rule hasn't changed, however: The music may not include any recognizable words.
"Lyrics have never been allowed, which is why we don't see gymnasts dancing to popular songs very often," Cervin said. "Or if we do, they're covers without the words."