After the First World War railwayman Otto Feick was imprisoned. While in prison he remembered an experience from his childhood where he rolled down a hill in two barrel rings that had been tied together. He then developed his plans to build a gymnastic apparatus out of his childhood dream, which he called the "Rhönrad". In 1925 Feick patented the wheel and reserved all rights in 30 countries.
In 1995 the International Wheel Gymnastics Federation (IRV) was founded and the first World Championships was held.
Since 2013 also the Cyr Wheel is part of the official WC competitions. This sports equipment is closely related to the gymnastic wheel, but has only one rim.