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New Pits on the Block

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…

Trench 1

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. 

Pit 1, 2

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.

Pit 1, 3

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!


Region 8 Mini-Congress: USAG National’s Mini-Me.

300_0864.NEF meyer_20100629_0948.NEF

Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Not to be confused with Salem, Massachusetts where they held the witch trials of the late 1600’s, Winston-Salem is 792 miles southward down the coast and 61 years younger. Settled in 1753, that still makes Winston-Salem pretty old by American standards. The city was originally settled by the Moravian Church (German Protestants) and is now said to be the most religious city in the state of North Carolina!

Mike and Kappy went for the Region 8 Mini-Congress June 8 – 10! 

Mike and Kappy really enjoy taking GMR Gymnastics Sales on the road to the USA Gymnastics Congresses at both the national and the regional levels.

The main reason they love a good Congress is that they get to meet: You! Going to a convention is their chance to get out of the office and connect with customers and friends old and new! Mike and Kappy love to keep their ear to the ground and stay on top of what’s happening out in the community and in gymnastics clubs around the country, if not the world. Social media allows for some of that, as do email and phone orders, but none of it is this same as meeting up face to face and shooting the, uh, stuff.

What mats do you need? What programs are most popular at your club these days? How is your pit holding up? What equipment do you feel you are missing? Do you have any questions? Is there anything I can help you with? These are Mike and Kappy’s opportunities to get out and ask and answer. These are your opportunities to come out and ask and get answers!


Former Level 9 Gymnast and Coach Jenni Hallock Talks Ten-o Grips!

Cabbage Patch

Sometimes, our customers send us things that really make our day, if not the whole darn month! This testimony sent to us from owner/operator Jenni Hallock is one such joy.

We spoke with her and got her permission to reproduce it in its entirety. She told us, “You have to save your hands to swing bars. To the kids and to me, it’s a huge deal. I’ve got to tell them how awesome their grips are.”

Amen to that, Jenni!

Thank you so much for making the time to let us know how our grips have made a difference in your gymnastics life and and in the lives of the gymnasts under your guidance now!

Black and White Grips“Hi There! My name is Jenni Hallock. I am the owner and head coach of G-4orce Athletics in Palestine, TX. I’m writing because I want to share a testimony with you about your grips and what they meant to me as a young gymnast and what they mean to the young gymnasts I now coach at my gym.

I’m currently 34 years old. I started using dowel grips at age 10. I continued to use them until my career as a gymnast was completed at age 16. I remember how excited I was to get my first pair of dowel grips. I don’t recall what brand they were, but they weren’t Ten-o. I used them only a short period of time before I began slipping off the bar. My coach and I tried to fix them, but I kept “pinging” off the bars. It just wasn’t happening for me. It wasn’t in the budget to buy another pair of grips, so to stay safe, I had to go back to a beginner pair of grips for a while.

A few months later, for my birthday, I got a new pair of dowel grips. This pair of dowel grips was different.These grips were red, white, & blue. I also had some matching wrist bands that went with them. These were Ten-o grips. I remember being nervous about using them. After all, my last experience with dowel grips didn’t go so well.

Let me say this, this new pair of grips allowed me to do tricks and swing on the bar like never before. I loved them! 

We purchased a size 0, couple of size 1’s, and a size 2 over the years. I am one of those people that keeps certain things that are important to me. For some reason, I have kept all of my Ten-o grips, some are over 20 years old. 

Coach Jenni


When I was preparing to open my gym last summer in 2017, and got the bars set up, we couldn’t find my daughter’s grips. Well, I went over to my trophy case and pulled out my old grips. She and I were trying to see if they would fit her and if they were in a condition to even use. I checked to make sure they weren’t overstretched, as I know that if they are they can get caught and lock up. Thankfully, they weren’t! And, she really wanted to swing some bars!

Then and Now

I first put on my size 2 grips from 1997. I took the grip brush to them, chalked them up and I did a kip fly away. My daughter went next with my size 0 grips from probably 1993? It was pure adrenaline!

When I first opened my gym in August 2017, some of my kids had grips some didn’t. I ordered a couple of pairs from you guys. — I’m getting to the point of this story I promise. — Do you know what those girls do now? They literally will argue over wearing “those grips.” Those grips that are my grips from 20 years ago. Seriously!  They love how they feel when they are doing bars. The girls will pout when “those grips“ are taken by another gymnast already at bars. Sometimes I take them and hide them, because I really don’t want them to wear them. I want them to wear their own grips and get them broken in. I had put mine out there for display never to be used again. The girls still do it, though, they try to be sneaky because they know they’re not supposed to. Of course, I make sure to not leave any in there that are too worn out or overstretched, for safety’s sake. Crazy kids! I’ve never seen grips that last like yours do!”

Old and New


On the left, one of the new Ten-o 501 Blues Grips Jenni ordered for her girls since she opened her gym. On the right, one of Jenni’s old grips from the 90’s her girls keep stealing from the case, lol.

“They want to wear them because they can swing bars on them unlike any other pair in the gym. I can’t go on enough about the quality of your grips. We don’t have to use anything, but chalk on the new ones we’ve ordered from y’all or my old grips when I let them use them.

Grips in Action

What’s funny is that some of the girls have grips from another company and they are slicker than climbing a mountain in high heels. Even being over 20 years old and somewhat used, my old Ten-o grips are the best grips in the gym. Some parents don’t have the money for new grips, and this being a new business and I don’t own a credit card,  I wasn’t in a place to purchase them for the girls until now. I couldn’t care less about ever trying another brand of grips. As far as I’m concerned, you are the only company I will ever purchase grips from. I just really felt I needed to share this story with you guys.” 

Girls and Grips

Tumbling into Christmas 2017

Can you paint fine details, in reverse mirror-image, through a tiny hole onto a thin, delicate piece of glass? No?

Unsurprisingly, neither can we. Lucky for all of us, we’ve found some very talented folks who can.

Years ago, sometime in the late 1990’s, at China’s world renowned Canton Trade Fair, Mike and Kappy met Mr. Liu, a sweet, unassuming, gifted painter.

Mr. Liu works for a small factory in China that does the most delicate of handiwork. Kappy, who has an eye and a soft spot for artisanal crafts, was on the hunt for something special to bring to ten-o.com’s Christmas gift offerings. She knew she had found something unique in Mr. Liu’s talent.

Mr. Liu is old school Chinese and doesn’t speak a word of English, so they spoke through a translator, a young kid. Even through a translator, you can get a feel for people. The translator’s words were accompanied by smiles and bows. Kappy could tell he wanted to communicate on his own and so did she, so she set about learning Mandarin Chinese, so she could talk with the folks that make the few things that aren’t made here in our Lithonia, GA HQ.

When she & Mike returned to China, Kappy greeted and spoke with Mr. Liu in his native language such that he was able to understand and communicate back using his own voice. He cried, moved that she had made such an effort to reach out to him. She cried, moved that she had succeeded in reaching him so deeply. It was such an emotional moment for both of them. It’s one of her favorite memories in her journey with GMR and one that adds one of the many layers of richness to the 18 year tradition of ten-o.com‘s ornament offerings.


Lice make a louse-y practice: Fight Back!

lice 2Kids can say the darnedest things. They can be cute and funny and sometimes… they get head lice.

That’s not the cute and funny part of working with kids, but it does come with the territory for schools and gymnastics gyms and clubs alike.

The best thing to do is confront the problem head on (oh yeah, we said that!) and get ‘er done!

First, let’s orient ourselves to what’s real courtesy of our friends at the Centers for Disease Control located here in our home state of Georgia.

What are head lice?

The head louse, or Pediculus humanus capitis, is a parasitic insect that can be found on the head, eyebrows, and eyelashes of people. Head lice feed on human blood several times a day and live close to the human scalp. Head lice are not known to spread disease.

Who is at risk for getting head lice?

Head lice are found worldwide. In the United States, infestation with head lice is most common among pre-school children attending child care, elementary schoolchildren, and the household members of infested children. Although reliable data on how many people in the United States get head lice each year are not available, an estimated 6 million to 12 million infestations occur each year in the United States among children 3 to 11 years of age.

Head lice move by crawling; they cannot hop or fly. Head lice are spread by direct contact with the hair of an infested person. Anyone who comes in head-to-head contact with someone who already has head lice is at greatest risk. Spread by contact with clothing (such as hats, scarves, coats) or other personal items (such as combs, brushes, or towels) used by an infested person is uncommon. Personal hygiene or cleanliness in the home or school has nothing to do with getting head lice.

OK. That’s one myth debunked!


Saving Men’s Collegiate Gymnastics

ASUTEAMCoverImageGymnastics, like music, art and other niche sports, has suffered greatly from educational budget cuts. Fewer high schools feature gymnastics programs. Kids are lucky, these days, if they get physical education (PE) at all. Cuts have hit so hard at the college level, the number of NCAA men’s gymnastics teams has gone from 270, only a few decades ago to just 16, now.

The sad and frustrating part is that enthusiasm for boys and men’s gymnastics continues to grow, but boys and men have fewer opportunities to pursue it on a competitive level, in a way that pairs gymnastics with an advanced education.

As the number of college teams has plummeted, so have scholarships to compete and attend school. That, in turn, makes for fewer educational opportunities for many male gymnasts’ who rely on athletic scholarships to offset the expense of college.

What we’re seeing is men who want to continue with gymnastics — while they’re bodies are in their prime — end up forced to choose between gymnastics and a higher education. Because of these cuts to teams and scholarships, male gymnasts are being deprived of opportunities to get an education on par with other athletes.

What ends up happening is that male gymnasts stay local and attend a community college, rather than a larger university, so they can still do gymnastics at their own club or gym. Fewer men at the larger, NCAA affiliated schools also leads to an impoverished NCAA field when good gymnasts get weeded out based on scholarship opportunities and scant team availability.

We spoke with a dedicated men’s gymnastics coach who’s taken a different tack to keep his athletes both in college and in the sport of gymnastics at a high skill level.


The pitfalls of pit construction: the rock solid truth.

retrofitIn our 39 years in the gymnastics biz, we’ve heard tell of many things pit. Among them lurk more than a few horror stories, entailing the woes, befallen those who seek to construct a gymnastics practice pit without factoring in the lay of the land, the mechanics of the bed and all the necessities for strong and properly poured concrete walls.

We’d like to share a few of those tales of the crypt, as cautionary tales of sorts on what… Not to Do.

First and foremost: don’t get your buddy to dig out and simply pour concrete into your would be pit. It may seem tempting and affordable. For the cost of a 24 pack, some laughs and a few pizzas, you, too, could have a brand, spankin’ new pit, but no. Really, no. Don’t do it.