If you’re smart and you care about others, you wouldn’t drive a vehicle while impaired. Back before Uber and Lyft, groups going out for a night on the town chose a designated driver to ensure everyone got home safely after they had their adult beverages and their fun.
If you’re a gym club owner and you care about your athletes, as well as your bank account, you wouldn’t let a gymnast use a piece of equipment whose safety and function is impaired from wear and tear or improper installation.
Sure, coaches can raise or lower bars to tailor it to an individual gymnasts needs. But, do they know how that piece of equipment overall is supposed to be positioned? Coaches are masters of picking out angles and body alignment as a gymnast moves through a skill. But, are they paying attention to see if the bases of your high bar, uneven bars or your ring frame have walked out sideways? Are they looking to see if they’ve gone cattywompus (one base forward, one base back)? On your unevens, are your cables frayed? Is the concrete around your anchors in good condition or is starting to crack? What are the ramifications of cracked concrete on the stability of your uneven bars?
Do they know how each piece of equipment works and WHY it needs to work that way? Understanding your equipment on a deeper level will help you identify issues before they become accidents
Just like with your party posse, we recommend your gym enlist a designated driver to drive your equipment inspection process.
Gymnastics equipment takes a beating in the course of a day; as well as over time. To keep your athletes and coaches safe, your gym needs to stay on top of the condition and position of all your equipment and matting.
Facts from USAG’s recommendations for equipment inspection safety: “Metal fatigues every time it bends. The more it moves, the faster it wears out. Metal on metal is a high wear area. Laminations wear out fast – keep them in good condition. Foam has a memory, but like us old folks, that memory starts to fail with age. Failures don’t happen suddenly.”
Failures don’t have to happen at all when you keep your eye on the ball.
Atlanta Georgia’s The Peach Pit wanted a full-service gym for gymnastics and cheer. They were working with smaller than average space constraints and have a couple of building foundation poles to plan and work around. They also wanted it to be aesthetically pleasing – because who doesn’t?
An issue, which comes up fairly often for a lot of gyms, was the necessity of putting their spring floor in a corner due to space and layout.
The way most spring floors normally work is that the carpet that covers the foam and the springy part extends about a foot beyond those borders on all sides. This foot wide overhang provides a nice presentation that helps weigh things down to offset the forces exerted while training that might work to slide that carpet off center. However, if you’ve got to run your spring floor alongside one or two walls, you’re not going to have room for that carpet overhang.
But!! When you’re a gym designer/equipment manufacturer you have the means to create technical solutions that mitigate those issues. To give The Peach Pit their perfect spring floor with carpet that stays put, Mike installed baseboards the height of the floor along the adjacent walls. Sewn to the carpet and stapled to those baseboards, Mike used hook and loop velcro connectors to secure the carpet in place for a clean, neat and safe training experience for their gymnasts.
ByGMR is the only company in the industry that offers this feature and service. In his travels through hundreds of gyms over the years, he’s seen quite a few DIY rigs where they just cram the carpet down on the side or pushed the carpet into the corner which meant that they had a two foot overhang on the other sides. Our built-in hook and loop connectors secure your carpet over your spring floor. Scoring a Comaneci 10.0! High marks for difficulty with no deductions for safety violations!
There’s so much to think about when designing and then installing equipment in your gymnastics gym. SO much! It’s easy for seemingly small details to go unseen or slip through, forgotten, in the mountain of minutiae one must sort through when birthing your dream gym vision into your gym’s reality. Many of these bits, probably wouldn’t even occur to you to think about until, well, they announce themselves by smacking you upside the head once all your gymnasts are chalked up and starting to swing.
In life, we live and we learn. But, hey! After over 40 years in the biz, we’ve done a lot of living and learning, so let us help make sure our lessons, don’t become your could-have-been-avoided-mistakes.
In previous blog posts, we’ve discussed the importance of doing research into the water table native to your area before digging out your pit. We’ve talked about how important it is to go over your gym’s blueprint design with your building contractors before you break ground. Here, we’d like to also recommend you share your gym club’s blueprint with your electrician, too!
Why’s that you may ask? Well, it’s because where you put your lights relative to your uneven bars, high bar and trampoline matters, also. Or, if you’ve already got lights installed, then it’s important to share your facility’s blueprint with whomever is planning or implementing your equipment install.
For trampolines’s, it’s easy to see that you’re going to need a heckuva lot of clearance between gymnast and ceiling or anything that hangs down from your ceiling, such as lights.
But, what you may not realize, until it’s too late, is that for safety’s sake, you really want to avoid putting lights directly over your high bar or uneven bars. Not only to ensure that you have enough clearance for giants and dismounts, but also to avoid having your gymnasts blinded by the lights above them.
As a gymnast comes through the bottom of their swing, their eyes will be pointed upward facing the ceiling until they crest the bar. If you’ve got lights right above that bar, they can’t help but look directly into them, as they swing upward. No one wants to be blinded when doing gymnastics, but it’s especially bad, if they’re trying to grab the bar back on a release move. That moment of blindness or the after images that may appear in their vision can prove disorienting and cause them to miss the bar and fall.
Ideally, you wouldn’t have lights over your balance beams, either, but that can be pretty hard to do as beams are so long and space is often limited. With beams, gymnasts may get a split second flash on an aerial or flip, if the lights are overhead, but for the most part gymnasts on a beam are traveling back and forth on a horizontal plane rather than the verticality of bars.
Floppy throw mats are one of the most versatile small mats you can use in your gym. Designed to be slung over a bar or a beam and stay put or tossed on the floor wherever you need an extra bit of padding, floppy mats help provide that little extra bit of cushion that helps buffer impacts when doing drills or new skills. Floppy mats also help take the edge off of the fear of trying new skills adding a bonus bump of confidence as gymnasts step out of their comfort zone.
GMR has recently added our Pink Floppy Mat to our wide array of gymnastics matting solutions. Sized at 36″ X 56”, the Pink Floppy uses a vibrant magenta on one side that you can easily find in your gymnastics club’s sea of traditional blue mats. This eye-catching color makes it an excellent mat to use when you’re trying to train your eyes & body to stick a skill or dismount in the correct spot. The pink side is made with an embossed, fuchsia fabric top that gives a great non-slip surface when practicing somersaults and flips on the beam. The back is covered in black vinyl with a special grab surface design to keep it in place when tossed over the beam or bar. The inside contains 3/4 inch foam which helps protect against the dreaded sting you get when landing or bumping up against a bar. The Pink Floppy’s foam acts like a memory foam mattress wherein it conforms to the shape of your bar or beam enabling it to stay right where you need it when you need it most.
Sweet Dreams are Made of These….
Rhythmic gymnastics is a great sport for gyms that want to expand their membership and class offerings. Classes and training in rhythmic gymnastics are not as widely available as that of artistic gymnastics. Offering rhythmic gymnastics gives your gymnastics club a chance to stand out and shine among the other gyms in your local area. Be it an intensive training program which aims to compete, as a purely recreational class or as a themed birthday party activity, rhythmic gymnastics can be a pretty good earner for your business.
Rhythmic gymnastics can also help your gym reach a wider, more inclusive range of children in your community. Not all children possess the physical ability or mental daring needed for artistic gymnastics. In rhythmic gymnastics, there are no bars to swing from or dismount, no 4 inch beam to aerial and kids aren’t running full speed and hurtling themselves off of a vault table.
Like any sport at higher levels of competition, rhythmic gymnastics can be a very physically demanding sport. It’s elite athletes are a marvel of strength, timing and grace. However, because rhythmic gymnastics involves staying on the floor and manipulating an apparatus such as a ball, hoop, rope, clubs or ribbon there is more potential room for a casual engagement with it for more children across physical abilities and mindsets. This allows more children a chance to benefit from the opportunities for fun, socialization, movement, maturity and memories that participating in a gymnastics class brings. The Special Olympics website offers a list of tips, rules and resources that can enable you in starting your rhythmic gymnastics track for kids with special needs.
Not all gymnastics gym installs are created equal. As any adult can atest: life is full of surprises. With Mike and Grant on hand to oversee construction contractors and install your gymnastics club’s equipment, foreseen and unforeseen architectural easter eggs can be worked around, or in the case of Gymtime in Pennsylvania, worked up and over or drilled through.
Gymnastics training pits must be 6 feet deep for physics and safety reasons. 5.5 feet ain’t gonna cut it. Alas, when digging in to create Gym Time’s gymnastics pit’s pit, it was discovered this was also the location of one of the building’s footers.
A building footer is a crucial part of a building’s foundation. It’s what creates the support for structures to build upwards. Picture a concrete column with a wider base at the bottom and that’s basically it. Kind of like your own leg that doesn’t just end at the ankle, but spreads out into your wider, longer foot-er to support your body.
One of the footers for Gym Time’s gymnastics pit lives at 5.5 feet under their building, inconveniently, exactly where they planned their 6 foot deep pit hole. Obviously, digging another six inches under it wouldn’t be a good idea. One does not argue with a building’s footer supports. So, what the contractors did was pour a six inch lip above the intended edges of the pit to achieve that vital 6 foot depth.
However, that meant that the equipment served by the pit: the rod floor, uneven bars, single bar trainer and vault, needed to be raised to lead into it on the same plane.
Where there’s a will, there’s a way! Enter the plywood deck!
Frequently, for varying reasons, gyms will build a raised deck on which to put their equipment. Usually, it’s because a pit hole can’t be dug, so they, as in this case, build up to compensate for facility features.
While, the plywood deck provided a viable work-around for the footer issue, it did raise it’s own complications in that the equipment floor plates cannot be anchored into mere plywood. Luckily, Mike and Grant bring many, many tools, bolts, drills and bits along when they do an install which allowed them to drill and anchor the equipment floor plates safely into the concrete floor below.
After 40 years in the business, Mike and Grant know how to identify and vanquish the challenges that arise when even the best laid plans meet their execution in reality.
That also meant that when it turned out there was sheet rock with insulation behind it on the back wall of the pit, Mike and Grant were able to engineer safe solutions to drill through it and get the pit frame safely anchored into the concrete support wall behind it all.
After a year in the works of Mike and Grant collaborating with the owners to design, plan and place the equipment, Gym Time’s new gymnastics facility turned out beautifully!
We are very proud they chose ByGMR brand equipment to kit out their exquisite gym including: our spring floor, carpet, 2 inch EVA foam (the springier stuff), rod floor, star bars, uneven bars, beams, single bar trainer and spotting deck, strap bar and our sag bed pit system. All the mats are ByGMR, as well. We were happy to help them work in their own, previously used JF vaulting table to trim costs where they could.
Our gymnastics customized, 3-D computer rendering design software knows all the dimensions of any piece of gymnastics equipment, ours or that of another company, and Mike and Grant stand ready to help you design and install the gym of your dreams!
Location! Location! Location! Success in a brick and mortar based business really does boil down to real estate and location. Success in the gymnastics business is no different, in fact, it doubles down when it comes to functional real estate *Inside* your gymnastics gym. Smart gymnastics club owners plan and use every inch of their space to pack in as much equipment and practice space, as possible.
To that end, having a star bar station (also known as a quad bar, so we’ll use both terms throughout this article) is a great way to keep all your athletes focused and working and to maximize the efficiency of your coaches’ time.
A star bar station looks kind of like a star? Errr, not exactly, but some folks in the gymnastics industry just took to calling them that, so we’ll roll with it, too. It’s essentially a set of 4 single bar trainers that share a common center upright that allows four gymnasts to practice drills and skills, simultaneously, while being coached and corrected by a single staff member.
Even better, those 4 rails – hence the quad bar moniker – are easily adjusted and can be kept at 4 different heights!Therein, you can set them up at varying heights and have one gymnast move through 4 different drill stations in one more compact spot!
If you had all of these single bar trainers set out separately in your gym, you’d need a whopping 8.5 feet x 60 feet of space! Depending on the length of rail you choose, (rails are purchased separately) the quad bar system brings that space requirement down to 17’ x 17’ for an 8 foot rail or 13.5’ x 13.5’ for a six foot rail. Yay! Multi-use, super efficient, compact rail estate!