USA Gymnastics Congress 2018: a resounding success!
Unlike most years, there were no national championships attached to the convention this go’ round. That made for a little less traffic by the booth. What it missed in quantity, it made up for in quality, as people were more leisurely in their time to chat.
Talking to coaches and customers, gymnasts, judges and parents is where the heart of congress lies, for us. It’s our chance to connect. It gives us an opportunity to take the pulse of the gymnastics community writ large. We answer questions about equipment, grips, gym club, pit design… You name it! We listen to your concerns and take them back to HQ where we spend the year tailoring our offerings to meet your needs.
This year, we even got to meet a service pig! Next to the crop of Olympic gymnasts, Bacon was the second brightest star! Isn’t he adorable?!
We saw a lot of interest in the new Dawn Mat we brought with us. Mike is ever the drills and skills nerd, so he really enjoyed talking about how it can be deployed out on the gym floor in training new gymnastics skills for both beginner and advanced gymnasts.
Bringing the Dawn Mat was new for us, as was setting up a display stand with Every. Single. Grip. We sell. We think we helped coaches, gymnasts and parents get a stronger grip on what fit and sizing should look like.
We also debuted our new gymnastics grips accessories to a warm reception.
Gymnasts are forever fiddling with their grips in line in between their turns at the equipment. Coaches will tell you, sometimes kids spend more time taking them on and off than they do practicing. Like anything, the more you pull it on and off, the more wear and tear is added to the life of the velcro closure.
Our new silicone S-bands help abate that. Fitting over the buckle or velcro grip strap, they make for a literal and psychological barrier to the incessant strap fidgeting or removal. They ensure a snug fit and a skill ready and focused gymnast. Coaches help them get strapped in and they stay that way until the end of practice. No more straps popping loose! Our S-bands also keep the velcro loops away from easily snagged material when it comes to the gymnast’s ongoing battle against the leotard wedgie. The Silicone Stretch, Strap Lock, Snag Stop… err… S-band, for short, is a big hit!
For folks looking for another variant that keeps straps locked down and loops away from leotards, we introduced our extra long wrist bands that fold over the strap keeping things locked in place the #3Band.
Coaches and gymnasts alike warmly welcome our new “Pokeys” gymnastics grips finger hole fillers. They’re perfect for the gymnast that overshoots their hole adjustment when priming their grips for the first time. They also add time onto the end of gymnastics grip wear, as leather naturally loosens with use, the pokeys step into keep finger holes tight, lengthening the time between inevitable new grips orders.
Another star in the trade show were our gymnastics pit cube covers. We were surprised how many coaches had never seen them!
They lead us into a very interesting conversation with a Rhode Island State Fire Safety Inspector over just how important gymnastics pit cube covers are to reducing your risk of a costly fire.
That Fire Inspector told Mike that while pit cubes may start out at fire retardant when they’re in their solid cube form, once bodies start hitting them and they begin to break down, they lose their fire retardant capabilities!
Pit cube particles are not fire retardant. So that layer of “pit fluffies” that collects at the bottom of every pit: not good. When foam particles become aerosolized, the area around the pit also becomes more susceptible to flash and burn.
He said that he came across 4 Rhode Island gyms that weren’t using fire retardant pit cubes which forced him to shut those clubs down until they came into compliance with mandatory fire safety codes. Lessons learned: Pit cube covers don’t just keep your gym cleaner, they help you: Stay Safe, Stay Open.
Of course, no USA Gymnastics Congress Trade Show trip is complete without stuffing our faces full of exotic local cuisine. Kappy is a big clams fan, so that was the focus this year’s fried dining. Iggy’s in Warren, Rhode Island and Quinto’s in Bristol kept Kappy happy as a clam.
I think we wore Patty out, though. Lol.