Young gymnasts who wish to develop their craft can do so right in the comfort of their home. Don’t let limited space be a deterrent—create a gymnasium to help your gymnast develop skills at home with our tumbling mats, octagons, floor beams, and more!
Choosing the Right Room
The first step is to choose a room that can withstand the noise, tumbling, and excitement of a budding young gymnast. Obviously, the type of home (apartment, two-level, or otherwise) and the size of the available space will impact the layout of your gym. Place your gymnastics equipment in an area that you can be sure won’t pose any distractions to the rest of your household. The constant movement means you may have to deal with the sounds of shuffling, running, jumping, and more. If there are other small children in the home with various sleeping schedules, your at-home gymnastics studio should stand apart from the other living spaces.
More spacious rooms are better suited to the task of housing a gymnastics room—especially considering your child will be (safely) bouncing off walls. Small spaces will appear even tinier when cluttered with equipment and mats. Natural sunlight and windows make for a welcoming, energizing space, perfect for a child gymnast; however, understandably, most people have already allocated such rooms as kitchens, living rooms, etc. Therefore, as a practical matter, many parents transform their basements instead. To make up for the lack of natural light, we recommend painting the room bright white, which will make it appear larger. Some people worry about the abrasive nature of white walls, but in fact, avoiding warm-hues is essential as they tend to stimulate relaxation.
Be sure to entirely dedicate your home gymnastics studio to the purpose of developing gymnastic skills. The worst mistake you can make is doubling up by using the same room as a play space for activities that utilize small toys and gadgets. Any unnecessary objects laying around are a potential threat to your child’s safety. The sport of gymnastics is incredibly taxing physically, and injuries will take a heavy toll on the vitality of an athlete. Ere on the side of caution by keeping the space clean and well-furnished with gymnastics tumbling mats.
Picking the Right Products
Your money and time are precious, so pick the products that are essential to your child’s learning:
- Gymnastics Tumbling Mat: Consult our guide for choosing the right gymnastics mat. Every proper home gym must include a lot of tumbling mats, as this is where your child will learn and perfect most of their tricks. Our mats are foldable for quick storage and thick enough to offer protection during more advanced tricks.
- Floor Beam: Consider your child’s skill level before purchasing a low, high, or adjustable beam. Foam balance beams are ideal for beginners. With a soft suede cover and a tapered bottom, foam beams provide stability for young beginners to get comfortable using them.
- Foam Floor Mats: It’s imperative you cover hardwood or laminate floor with a layer of interlocking floor mats. This softens the impact of any harsh landings, providing an added layer of protection that a tumbling mat alone may not cover.
- Incline Mat: For the little ones, the gradual slope of our high-quality incline mats—also known as cheese wedge mats—are the perfect place for them to practice forward, back, log, and dog rolls. Rolls are the very basis of nearly all gymnastics skills, and will likely be used by your child. They can also practice backbends and walkovers as a precursor to more difficult tricks such as back handsprings.
Best Exercises for Flexibility
Loose muscles will prevent cramping and muscle injuries. Improve your little one’s flexibility at home with these stretches. In order for the stretch to effectively reach the length of the muscle, children should hold it for at least 30 seconds.
- Lower Body Stretches: Conditioning the calves using your own body weight is quick and easy, especially if you have a balance beam. Stand on a beam with your heels in the air and drop them down below the beam in pulses. Another great stretch is the downward dog, which stretches the hamstrings, calves, and your arms.
- Lower Back Stretches: To gain muscle and flexibility in the lower back, try the straddle stretch. Sit on the floor with your legs stretched as far apart as they’ll go, and slowly bend forward from the hips. This will create a stretch in your inner thigh as well as your lower back. Extend forward until you feel tension in the stretch, but don’t continue to the point of physical pain.
- Splits: The split relies on elasticity in the hip flexors and hamstrings and they are a focal element of many gymnastic skills. The oversplit—stretching the legs to bend at more than 180 degrees—has also become routine. Butterfly stretches work the inner thighs, lower back, hips, and groin area. To perform the stretch, sit down with your feet touching each other and your knees spread apart. Move your heels in towards your body while pushing your knees to the floor. You can also lower your back to the floor, pushing your arms in front of you to increase the stretch.
Best Exercises to Develop Strength
- Hollow Body Hold: The hollow body hold is essential to develop a strong core, enabling gymnasts to hold handstands for long periods of time. To perform this exercise, lie down flat on your back (keeping in contact with the floor at all times), pulling your belly button towards the floor. Point your toes straight out and your arms straight back, holding your shoulders tight against your ears. Slowly begin to raise your shoulders and legs from the ground, but not too high—the goal is to find the lowest height at which you can hold your arms and legs up from the floor. Do this for a minimum of 60 seconds.
Tips: Don’t arch your lower back, as this will mean your core is not fully engaged and will render the exercise less effective. You should round your upper back, tuck your pelvis, and keep your abs and glutes tight throughout the entire exercise.
- Arch Body: The arch body strengthens the posterior muscles of the back, often serving as the sister exercise in conjunction with the hollow body hold. To perform this exercise, lie face down with your stomach on the floor, stretching your arms overhead and extending your legs with pointed feet. The key is to keep your arms and legs from touching the floor for as long as possible while arching your body as much as possible.
Tips: Don’t use only your lower back to lift your extremities—engage your glutes and middle back as well, as this will also strengthen your core. Remember that your core includes muscles such as hip abductors, the pelvic floor, obliques, abdominal muscle, and any muscle that attaches to your spine.