We at By GMR have had the pleasure of working with the good folks at Bull Run Academy of Gymnastics out of Warrenton, VA, on putting together their beautiful new gymnastics gym. They gave us the dimensions of their building and the list of equipment they have and what they wanted to add and asked us to help them design the best, most safety conscious and space efficient layout for their facility. We discussed the pits they wanted and — very importantly: what types of skills they wanted to train into those pits and how they wanted them laid out.
We talked gymnastics gym design. We talked gymnastics classes. We talked gymnastics gym flow.
We then came up with a blue print of all the equipment and mats for the gym itself. We provides them blueprints of the gym with the pits. We provided blueprints of the pits only to their contractors. We also provided several 3D rendered views so the gym owners could see what their gym would look like from all the vantage points they wanted.
If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, at all, you may have picked up on the fact that Mike is a bit of a gymnastics pit design nerd. This is literally the 6th post we’ve done on the subject, lol.
But, there’s a lot to dig into on the topic! What’s special about this particular gym pit post is that this one offers photos of a gymnastics pit made with concrete blocks rather than poured concrete! Also, it offers a good look at the beginnings of a gymnastics pit in its early construction. So without further ado…
Here you see the single bar trainer and trench pit leg attached to a 24 inch resi pit. It will contain a 8ft x 18 ft curved trench bar mat. In this instance, they made the entire trench 7 feet deep and built a wood platform for the resi, to sit on. The wood you see here is a temporary framing that helps keep the walls straight while they dry. All of the concrete blocks are filled with concrete and reinforced with rebar. As it should be with every pit, they are built in accordance with their local building codes.
This photo shows the main pit which is 18 ft x 34 ft and 7 feet deep. The pit only needs to be six feet deep, but the wanted it to be 7 feet deep to accommodate the trench bar mat.
This photo offers a really good top view of the concrete blocks filled with concrete and their rebar reinforcements. You can also see how they are tied into the concrete floor via the rebar and the poured concrete. We can’t stress it enough. Check your local building codes! We know of a gym that didn’t build to code and they had to scrap everything and start over. Don’t let that happen to you!
What our coaches and athletes need is a multi-purpose training mat which features a built-in 24 inch high spotting block attached to an incline that transitions down to a lower end that is still 12 inches high.
Most wedge shaped mats of this shape transition all the way down to a 2 inch lower end. However, our new “Dawn Mat”, named after Coach Dawn Campos who came to us with the custom matting request, allows a soft, skill cushion to be positioned at the end of the incline.
That 12 inch low end butting up to the softer skill cushion matters because it allows for that softer landing so important to gymnastics drills and new skill acquisition. The Dawn Mat can be used in the either the horizontal or vertical position for training variety of optional and compulsory skills!
39 years in the gymnastics equipment manufacturing business + 17 years coaching men’s gymnastics + 7 years as a competitive gymnast + 4 years judging men’s gymnastics…
Gives Mike a edge others just can’t offer.
Mike’s designed and helped gym owners design hundreds of gymnastics gyms over what will be 40 years this September. He would like to share the benefit of that experience with you. He loves this stuff!
Mike said, “Let’s write a blog post about how people can call me on my cell, anytime. I don’t have office hours.”
I said, “Well, Mike. We probably shouldn’t put your cellphone number on the Internet. There are programs that scan for stuff like that; plus, it’s the Internet, things can get weird.”
So, we decided we’d write the post to say that folks who have gymnastics gym questions can call the office number 1-800-241-9249 ext. 226, and from there, they can get his cell, if you need to reach him after regular business hours. Though, truth be told, you might reach him at his extension on the weekend, anyway. He’s often there on a Saturday when it’s quiet.
Of course, if you’re one of those people who hates the phone, he’s available via email, too!
Some of his 39 years in the gymnastics equipment industry include the 17 years he spent in a gymnastics gym coaching men’s gymnastics and his 4 years judging. He wanted to be sure and say that some of the aforementioned years were concurrent.
Mike: “I’m not Methuselah!” Lol.
Those years did teach Mike how gyms work; how they work best. When you own and operate a gymnastics gym, you want life in your club to flow! A gymnastics gym is a dynamic place: with its classes, kids and coaches; parents, parties; sales and merch; meets, events; everything from elite athlete training to recreational fun and parents nights out and all that a gym brings to a community, a gym’s got to run like a train station in Zurich.
Safety is just as mission critical to the gym, as it is to a train station when you’ve got tons of kids going as hard as they can, in all different directions. The marriage of gymnastics equipment manufacture and coaching taught Mike how to operate a gym safely. A big portion of your gym’s safety lies in a gym’s design and the way your equipment is laid out across the floor plan.
Buy the right equipment. Get it laid out for maximum efficiency and safety. Get it installed properly. Keep it maintained safely. Call Mike.
Got questions about what you need for your cheer program? Your kid’s rec program? Preschool, martial arts, dance, barre fitness, dance? Ask Mike.
If you’re putting in a new pit and need the specs for the concrete or you want to upgrade from the outdated, tight trampoline bed to our Sag Bed Pit system for better deceleration, Call Mike.
Mike can help you figure out which mats are right for you, source the right part for those AAI or Spieth America bars that need tweaking — we sell By GMR as well as all the major manufacturers of gymnastics equipment—. He’s an expert in logistics and can get you what you need – fast – the cheapest way possible. He can easily walk you through an installation.
Mike’s nigh on 40 years in gymnastics will make you feel right at home asking that complex question that can’t be categorized, but will make total sense when you lay it out with Mike on the phone.
Our intrepid By GMR owner-operators, Mike and Kappy will be making another Region 8-oriented trek northward!
June 8 – 10th marks the weekend of Region 8’s Mini-Congress! For the southeastern gymnastics professional, it’s the regional version of the USA Gymnastics’ National Congress and Trade Show that gathers attendees from all over the United States. In the industry, it goes by the moniker “Congress”, sort of like Madonna or Cher, but better on beam.
Not everyone in the gymnastics community can afford the time or money to travel across the country, stay in a hotel and get the big Congress experience. If you can swing it, it’s a great time! There are seminars, workshops and clinics that cover the gamut of subjects of ardent interest to the community: coaching techniques, bio-mechanics, fundraising, sports psychology, rec programs, gym insurance and liability, child safety, gym management… you name it!
If attending a national Congress isn’t an option for you, a mini-congress held in your region makes for a wonderful opportunity to connect with other gymnastics community professionals, attend seminars and see what’s available from gymnastics industry vendors like By GMR and Ten-o!
Left to Right: Mike Raines, Collin Hickey, Brody Malone, Stewart Brown, Kevin White
The 10.0 Award! 34 years and going strong! GMR Gymnastics Sales enjoys the pleasure of rewarding excellence in men’s gymnastics paired with scholarly achievement and care in their community!
Graduating seniors who excel in gymnastics, academics and extracurricular activities receive a glass sculpture and acknowledgement at their annual Region 8 Championship meet.
This year’s winner is Brody Malone! Brody is quite the rising star in the gymnastics world with a heady set of national and international titles under his belt:
National Competition Results
• 2017 P&G Championships, Anaheim, Calif. – 1st-AA, FX, PH, PB, HB; 2nd-SR; 4th-VT (17-18)
• 2017 Men’s Junior Olympic National Championships, Kissimmee, Fla. – 2nd-AA (JE 17)
• 2017 Winter Cup Challenge, Las Vegas, Nev. –
• 2016 P&G Championships, St. Louis, Mo. – 3rd-HB; 7th-VT (15-16)
• 2016 Men’s Junior Olympic National Championships, Battle Creek, Mich. – 2nd-AA, VT(T), PB; 3rd-SR; 5th-PH, HB (L10 JE 15)
• 2015 Men’s Junior Olympic National Championships, Daytona Beach, Fla. – 6th-HB; 7th-AA, PB (L9 JE 14)
International Competition Results
• 2018 RD761 International Junior Team Cup, Katy, Texas – 2nd-HB; 3rd-Team, SR; 5th-VT; 6th-AA, PB
• 2017 International Junior Gymnastics Competition, Yokohama, Japan – 2nd-HB; 4th-AA, PB; 6th-VT
Brody worked hard at Twisters gymnastics in Cartersville, GA near Summerville where he lives. Next year he’ll be setting off for Stanford, California on a full ride, gymnastics scholarship! We at By GMR wish you the best of luck, Brody!
Also, nominated were Stewart Brown of Foothills Gymnastics, North Carolina and Collin Hickey Gymnastics USA, Florida. Our heartfelt congratulations go out to these two strong, young gymnastics and academic achievers!
Another, very special, honor bestowed at the May 12-13th, Jekyll Island, Region 8 Men’s Levels 7 – JO meet, one that means a lot to us here at By GMR and ten-o.com HQ was seeing Mike Raines get inducted into the Region 8 Hall of Fame.
Mike started Region 8 men’s gymnastics. Well, he and Kappy did. They wrote the first Region 8 newsletter. That was probably back in 1979, ’78? They can’t remember exactly when. It was back before it was all highly organized like it is today. That was back before they had the guidance from USA Gymnastics like they do these days. That was back when club gymnastics was just getting off the ground, maybe, around 1975-76. We were lucky to get 40 gymnasts at a Region 8 meet from GA, AL and NC.
Mike says, “We held the first state meet. We held the first Region 8 regionals championship. We held the first regional clinic. We also did the first regional compulsory judges course in our area to teach judging for compulsories. All the judges were used to college or high school kids. Compulsories was a new thing to them.”
On being inducted into the Region 8 Hall of Fame:
Mike says, “It is such an honor. Region 8 gymnastics means a lot to me. I’m so proud of the way its grown and so excited about all of the new talent that’s out there! We went to the Region 8 compulsories for levels 4 -6 in TN, at the end of April and we were blown away by how many young gymnasts there were just in those levels. There was something like 715 boys all doing solid, basic gymnastics! It’s great to see! It’s an honor to have my contributions to the foundations of Region 8 gymnastics recognized by the organization and it’s really heartening to see the organization grow and see it flourish to support so many young kids in all that gymnastics brings to them.”
When kids are teetering around on a 4 inch wide surface raised 4-ish feet off the floor and then they start turning cartwheels, aerials and backflips on it, ya really ought to put a mat underneath it. Ya know, just in case.
In fact, if you run a gym club you really want to put a mat on either side of your beams which are ideally spaced six feet apart. Some gymnastics gyms space their beams 4 feet apart. We don’t recommend that. Think about it. If you think about the length of the gymnasts as they’re leaping and gymnastics-ing, ehhhh, 4 feet just isn’t a safe enough margin for little noggins not to go knockin’ on the beam or the gymnast next door.
You also want to position a mat at the end of each beam. Additionally, you want to pad the upright legs, as well as cover the part of the leg that’s on the floor.
The goal is to create one big safe landing space under, at the end and to the sides of the beam for when doing skills on that 4 inch wide space doesn’t go as hoped, every time, because we all know it won’t.
Why pad the balance beam legs?
In Mike’s time as a coach, he’s seen girls fall on beam in all kinds of ways. Girls can slip at the end of the beam and hit one of the legs. They can lose their balance and end up splitting the beam or one legs slips and hits the beam upright underneath. Sometimes, you’ll get a gymnast who misses a dismount and lands short or bounces forward and hits a beam upright. You want to be sure your kids are hitting padded metal and not just straight metal. Your kids will thank you, your parents will thank you, your insurance will thank you.
With every gymnastics pit system we design or sell, we always send along a gym pit warning poster that lists pit safety protocols. We recommend gyms, clubs or schools that train gymnasts using a gymnastics pit post these safety protocols near their pit, so that coaches and gymnasts will see it and be reminded that training acrobatic skills into a pit can be dangerous and is not to be taken lightly just because it’s commonly done in the sport of gymnastics.
Several of these protocols are self-explanatory, but some of the reasoning behind them might not be so obvious to the newbie coach or athlete or to their parents, so we thought we’d do this post to talk a little about our gym pit safety protocols and what reasoning lies behind them in the hopes that knowing they WHY behind these safety principles will help keep more folks safe out there.
- Use the pit only under supervision of a gymnastics professional.
- Always make sure the foam is adequately fluffed before using the pit. There should be a mountain of cubes to the point of overflowing the edge of the pit. The foam should be fluffed up after every 3 to 5 entries.
If your pit doesn’t look like a mountain of cubes, then that could indicate the cubes are compressed or that you don’t have enough cubes in the pit. Having a pit which doesn’t have enough cubes or whose foam pit cubes are compressed will not displace or absorb the incoming forces of the gymnast’s body and thus will not offer the cushioned landing or slowing down that a pit is there to provide. Landing into a pit full of compressed foam cubes would be like landing onto just a big block of foam.