Turn Gymnastics - North America

Artistic Gymnastics: Nick Bockelman's Gym-Bot

Posted: Aug 29 2014

The year is 2014 and artificial intelligence has crossed over to the world of gymnastics. We’ve all seen the YouTube video of the small Japanese robot performing a Kovács to triple back, but now imagine a life size robotic being performing the hardest gymnastic skills with ease. Although the technology has not yet been established, Nick Bockelman has put his creativity on paper, developing a character by the name of Gym-Bot. We got a chance to talk to the artist himself and found out he is not only an amazingly talented graphic artist but a gymnastics coach at Central Coast Gymnastics Sports Center in San Luis Obispo, CA.


Turn: Tell us about Gym-Bot?

Nick: Gym-Bot is a remotely controlled robot used in the future for athletic training and physical therapy. I guess you could think of Gym-Bot as an avatar, controlled through a mind-body connection by its commander (human athlete). Gym-Bot and its commander eventually develop a deep connection the longer they work together.

Turn: What inspired the creation of Gym-Bot?

Nick: To be honest, the original image was for an assignment in art school; to create a robot for a children's television/movie event. I thought "what kind of robot would I like to see as a kid?" and of course I loved watching gymnastics on TV growing up. I was also a big fan of the Transformers animated series. After I created the first image, the story slowly developed as an extension of my own experiences in gymnastics.

Turn: The drawings look ridiculously intricate, how long does it take to create each drawing?

Nick: Hmmm. Well, Gym-Bot swinging on pommels took about an hour to sketch out and another hour or two to make a more finalized sketch. The same goes with the other Gym-Bot drawings, but creating the digital vector images, like the one on pommel horse, took several days to complete. I can't even count the hours, but it was a lot!

Turn:  Are you working on any other characters or any other gymnastic related material?

Nick: Yes, I'm working on developing and completing the Gym-Bot story with all its different characters. The story will center around a young athlete who uses Gym-Bot, along with his long time coach, a scientist, and robotics company, and several other supporting characters. I'm also creating other Gym-Bot models that will compete against each other, and maybe even compete against other humans.

Turn: Sounds like a really interesting project, so what are your plans for Gym-Bot?

Nick: I'd like to create a short 25-40 page novel about the Gym-Bot story. The book would weave together a sci-fi adventure tale of this gymnastics robot, along with exploring themes of hard work, delayed gratification, and empathy within the sport. So far I have bits and pieces of the story created, but I would like to put it all together to publish. I think it would be a great book for young athletes and kids with deep imaginations!

Nick is definitely putting the “artistic” back in Men’s Artistic Gymnastics and he’s the first to do it in a way that can inspire the next generation of gymnastics superstars. Look out later this year when we release the first in a line of Turn Gym-Bot tees, but in the meantime, please support and appreciate Nick's work by purchasing his art at Fine Art America. We look forward to working with Nick and watching Gym-Bot develop into a successful platform for the sport of gymnastics.

- Team Turn

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