The USA Gymnastics Congress Trade Show is one of the highlights of our year! It’s a time to reconnect, in person, with long time gymnastics industry friends and an opportunity to make new connections! It offers us the opportunity to hear from YOU about your equipment and apparel needs, catch up on and discuss gymnastics community issues and, just like so many of you, fan out on meeting gymnastics luminaries!
This year, Mike got to meet one of the gymnastics idols of his youth: Dave Thor!
In our Evolution of GMR blog post we talked about young Mike’s love for the sport of gymnastics. Mike started his career in gymnastics in his teen years when he competed for his high school team team the Lakeside Vikings.
As those were the dark, pre-YouTube days, so Mike and his teammates learned their skills and routines from studying the Olympics on TV which his coach filmed using a Super8 camera. Mike recalls they watched those reels over and over and over again, each time with a fervent interest. Dave Thor (how cool of a last name is that for a gymnast, right?!) was one of the sports’ top athletes. His bio on Sports reference lists his accomplishments:
“Dave Thor attended Michigan State University where he was Big 10 all-around champion for three straight years, 1966-68. He placed third in all-around at the NCAA Meet in 1966 and 1968, winning the Nissen Award in 1968, given to the nation’s top senior collegiate gymnast. Thor competed for the US at the 1967 Pan American Games, winning five medals, with a team gold, and four individual bronze medals in all-around, high bar, pommeled horse, and floor. He also competed at the 1967 World University Games, winning the all-around gold medal. Thor won two national titles, winning on pommels and floor in 1969, when he placed third in all-around.”
US Gymnastics Hall of Fame, explains that Thor competed in the Olympics in 1968, but due to the way things were determined when athletes were tied for an event and All-Around scores were factored in, he was not allowed to compete in the team finals for the US. It’s a real shame, as Dave Thor was a master on the pommel horse in his 1968 Mexico City Olympics optional routine.
Texas is the second biggest state in the union. It’s 10% larger than France and twice the size of Germany or Japan!
That means there’s a lot of flippin’ and twistin’ goin’ on in this Great State!
Luckily, Texans have the Gymnastics Association of Texas, to help them pull it all together! Known in the biz, as GAT, they’ve been doing just that, in the form of their trade show and convention for 51 years! Now that’s… Impressive!
It had been about 30 years since GMR had attended a GAT convention, so we thought it was high time we hauled ourselves and our bevy of convention goodies out west to attend.
The timing this year was tough, as Texas and Louisiana had just been hit by Hurricane Harvey, the largest storm to hit that area in all recorded time. As is part of our nature and culture, the gymnastics community stepped up to help affected gymnastics gyms and clubs by donating to the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund LINK GAT is managing. The fund has raised as much as $20,000 with more trickling in every day. https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScGaekfpJSG9btrNdzSQ_HxmZ2j4j1tkLjE-5BtjWY90_-fpA/viewform
Your single bar trainer is the most versatile piece of equipment in your gymnastics training facility.
A single bar trainer serves as a 3-in1 workhorse that allows male gymnasts to train for competition in the men’s horizontal “high bar” event. Your single bar trainer helps your female gymnasts focus and hone their skills on the uneven bars by taking the low bar out of the way. And, it lets gymnasts of any gender perfect the foundation of all bar skills, their swing, by using straps in bar strap training work.
A single bar trainer is practically the 5th event in any serious gymnastics club that trains female gymnasts!
Skills like giants, pirouettes, stalders, release moves, and dismounts all require strength, speed and control executed with precision timing. Taking the distraction of the low bar out of the equation means your female gymnasts can concentrate on the more minute elements of the skills they’re working!
The single bar trainer speeds up learning and allows for more repetition (yes, please!) which in turn leads to mastery of the skills and challenges each gymnast faces. Once you get it down on one bar, its gets a lot easier when you add in the spatial complexity the other, lower bar brings.
The second best thing about the single bar trainer is that its a space saver. As any gym or gymnastics club owner knows, the value of real estate in the training area cannot be overstated. To conserve and maximize your gym’s space, its all about location, location, location!
At GMR, we make single bar trainers which utilize different base types such as a T base, an L base and a V base, so that every gym can find the space that’s right for them to install this super efficient piece of equipment in their gymnastics training facility.
Most known for their emphasis on trampolines, the good folks at Nissen were the first folks to make a single bar trainer. Later came single bar trainers from the American Foundry and Machine Foundation (AMF) the pre-cursor to today’s AAI. They all just took the low bar off of the uneven so that it stood alone with its own cables, like a mini high bar.
GMR’s founder, Mike Raines, who is a former gymnastics coach was the first in the gymnastics industry to make a single bar trainer that bolts down and is cable-free. It was the height of the lower unevens bar.
In college, Mike competed on a high bar that was cabled to the floor and the ceiling at Georgia Tech. It was very flexible, so he decided to make one that was cabled to the ceiling and bolted to the floor for his boys team’s gymnastics gym home. (He also cabled a ring frame to the ceiling).
Mike would do gymnastics clinics with boys and coaches from other gymnastics teams and the coaches who came to his gym would want to buy the single bar trainer that saved so much space! They wanted one that was the height of the high bar, so he came up with one that was the height of the high bar of the unevens with a T base. It became the most popular single bar trainer in the US! It’s cabled into itself and bolted into the floor and makes for an extremely stable training bar.
Always looking to innovate and problem solve, Mike made his next single bar trainer with an L base; it would have a smaller base and fit into corners of in an L shaped pit. Mike then introduced a single bar trainer with steps that allow gymnasts to use it without needing someone to hoist them up. Or, coaches could use the steps to adjust the bar and climb up onto the removable spotting deck to spot their athlete. No one else had that!
And, who doesn’t want quick, interchangeable bars that provide a fast switch of rails from men’s to women’s to strap bars?! All of the GMR single bar trainer rails are the same sizes as the competition rails for their corresponding events.
The goal: Get as much equipment as possible into the gym and do it safely. With the GMR single bar trainer it’s a mission accomplished!
“Honeyyyyyyyyyy! What’s a dowel grip? Your coach says you need ‘Dowel Grips’!”
“Gosh, mom, you don’t know? They have this new thing called Google, ya know, says Jen the kid and tech-head gymnast, who’s devices are practically, congenitally attached. Kids these days… Jen reading from her phone, “The dictionary says a dowel is, ‘a peg of wood, metal, or plastic without a distinct head, used for holding together components of a structure.’”
Jen and the dictionary bring us to an important point. Our ten-o.com grips use a strong, rubber dowel to help create a pocket in the leather into which the bar or rail fit.
See, the leather protects the skin of the gymnast’s hand against the friction of the swing or the ring as the athlete executes their skills. A gymnast’s hands take a beating with all the repetitive motion in practice and competition. The weight of the gymnasts body coupled with the forces of swinging bars or holding the rings can cause the skin to rip. Grips won’t stop that all together — rips are a right of passage in the sport — but grips do help minimize the effects and damage of the physics inherent to the sport. (more…)
“The Watson-Raines Gymnastics award was established in honor of coaches Gene Watson and Mike Raines who were pioneers in the growth of Georgia Men’s Gymnastics. Their passion and commitment to the sport provided an innovative approach which was the catalyst for the success of many coaches and gymnasts who began their careers in Georgia. Their award is given in recognition of a male gymnast with financial need whose time and talent in the sport embody the philosophy of commitment, achievement and sportsmanship,” Peachtree Invitational website. To catch this year’s meet in action, February 24 -25, 2018, visit http://peachtreeinvitational.com/ for more information.
The meet is run by an Atlanta School of Gymnastics (ASG) coach who should have an award named after him in his own rite: Nathan Renato Simmons.
Nathan and one of the namesakes of the award, Gene Watson, coached men’s gymnastics at ASG for years developing the men’s team. Gene started the Peachtree Men’s Invitational meet 34 years ago. Nathan took it over when Gene moved away to pursue other coaching opportunities elsewhere in the US.
Nathan works as a lawyer whose passion is gymnastics. In his younger years, he was one of Bob Boudreau’s gymnasts, a coach whom he counts as his best and lifelong friend.
Nathan talks about his life as a gymnast and a coach and the formative experiences that have compelled him to work with kids in the sport of gymnastics in this short film:
Nathan’s goals are simple: Teach kids to grow up to be good people who work hard and reach success.
GMR’s founder, Mike Raines, has known Nathan and Gene for years.
Nathan and Mike are pictured here proudly giving out the Watson-Raines award in 2014. (more…)
Aisle 200, Booth #223 is where it’s at!
To highlight the advantages of our By GMR, Sag Bed Pit Bed System, we’re bringing a see-through, plexiglass, mini-Sag Bed Pit System to the trade show floor — complete with itty bitty, 2 inch, colored cubes for your pit cube counting pleasure!
Are you good at math, psychic or just generally lucky? Why not stop by and give us your best guess as to how many pit cubes we’ve used to fill our mini-Sag Bed Pit System gym pit?!
The Pit Specialists at By GMR, want you to see for yourself how our Sag Bed Pit System helps protect your athletes from the forces generated by all of those gravity defying skills we’ve come to love in our sport.
The lucky winner who comes closest to correctly guessing the number of tiny pit cubes we’ve used to fill the pit wins a $200 gift certificate to be used to make their GMR dreams come true!
But, that’s not all! (more…)
Parents drop off or wait to pick up their kids at your gymnastics gym or club all day every day. What should they do while they wait?
Why shop at your gymnastics gym pro shop, of course!
Capitalizing on a captive audience is an organic fit for any children’s activity center. You run rec programs and competitive training programs. These activities require clothing and gear. Why not put in some best business practices and meet the needs of your market in a one-stop shop? Parents will appreciate your in-house expertise when determining sizing for gymnastics specific items like leotards and gymnastics grips.
Plus, your gymnastics club does birthday parties, ninja outings, graduation parties, parents nights out and holiday events… Having a gift shop on the premises makes it just that much easier for everyone to get their gymnastics themed goodies while on one of the many runs parents make shuttling their kids to all their extra-curricular activities. (more…)