Gymnastics Equipment for Home Use and Training
It doesn’t matter what your age or gender is, gymnastics is one of the best sports for getting fit and healthy. Here at Fitness Drum, we always encourage our community to adopt some type of gymnastics training into their fitness routines.
But finding the best gymnastics equipment can often be a challenge.
After searching high and low for some equipment for our own studio, we found buying equipment and accessories for gymnastics and rhythmic gymnastics harder than we’d hoped for.
Reviews, rating, recommendations… It all gets a bit confusing doesn’t it?
So we set out on a mission – to create a definitive guide to help everyone looking to buy gymnastics equipment.
We’ve reviewed the best products and gear out there and sieved through the good, the bad, and the ugly. We hope this will give you a clear picture of what to look for and what products are worth your while. This guide is based on the best gymnastics kit we could find as well as the opinions and reviews from athletes and coaches from around the world.
Getting the right gymnastics equipment is very important, regardless of whether you’re competing at the Olympics or simply just starting out. You need to find equipment that will help support and enhance your gymnastic abilities, not equipment that could hinder it.
The development of home gymnastics equipment means the benefits of gymnastics aren’t only for those who join clubs, but are now available for everyone – it’s simply a case of buying a bit of equipment and getting stuck in!
As we’ll discover in this guide, you don’t need lots of space and it’s very possible to buy equipment and accessories that don’t cost a fortune either.
So, where to start?
Well let’s break this down into the different areas you’ll probably be focused on. Gymnastics is a broad discipline made up of lots of more specific events all requiring different skill sets and often different equipment. Equipment and accessories can be large and expensive items. In recent years, lots of retailers have noticed the demand for equipment you can use at home. This is fantastic as it means you can train and practice at home, helping progress you on your own fitness journey.
So, without further ado, let’s dive in!
Artistic gymnastics is hugely popular at the summer Olympics, with team competitions, all-round competitions (gymnasts perform as singular competitors on all pieces of equipment), and event finals, where each gymnast focuses on one piece of equipment.
Artistic gymnastics involves competitors performing routines on different pieces of apparatus. Each routine is shorter than a usual gymnastic routine, ranging from 30 to 90 seconds on average. Gymnasts are judged on their execution of the routine, the degree of difficulty and their overall presentation skills.
Both men and women compete in the vault and the floor exercises. Male competitors can also compete in the pommel horse, parallel bars, the high bar and the rings as male only events. The female competitors feature in the uneven bars and balance beam as female only events.
Both male and female gymnasts perform the vault. The vault is now performed on a ‘vaulting table’ for safety reasons, after previous serious injuries occurred on old forms of the apparatus.
The surface is now larger, flatter and more cushioned. It is almost parallel to the floor and sloped slightly downwards towards the floor at the end closest to the gymnast’s run-up.
To perform a vault, a gymnast runs down a padded runway, hurtling onto a springboard and onto the vault with their hands. The gymnast then performs several twists or turns in the air before landing on a mat.
Floor Exercising Equipment
Floor exercises are also performed by both male and female competitors (women have been allowed to compete since 1948). The floor itself is a prepared exercise surface, considered to be a piece of gymnastics equipment.
The floor contains a combination of springs, rubber foam and plywood to make the floor bouncy. It is also designed to soften the impact of landings.
Female routines can last for up to 90 seconds, while male routines last for around 70 seconds. The out of bounds area is clearly marked, either by a different coloured mat or white tape.
Women always perform floor exercises to music, but this is optional for men.
Uneven bars are used by women in artistic gymnastics. They’re sometimes also known as asymmetric bars. The frame of the bars is most commonly made from steel, while the bars themselves are usually made of fibreglass with a wood coating. They can also be made entirely from wood, but this is less common.
The uneven bars are often referred to simply as ‘bars’. So that each gymnast can transition from bar to bar, each bar is placed at a different height and width. The upper bar is usually placed at 250cm, while the lower bar is usually placed at 170cm.
Many gymnasts usually practice on a singular bar to begin with, as this is safer and easier to spot. When making the transition to an uneven pair of bars, people generally practice over a loose foam pit in case of falls.
Parallel bars are used by the men in artistic gymnastics, rather than the uneven bars.
The parallel bars are two 340cm wooden bars positioned roughly at hand height, supported by a metal framework. At elite level, routines include swinging skills in a support position, a hanging position and an upper arm position. Routines can finish at either end of the bar or dismounting from the side of the bar.
High Bar/Horizontal Bar
The high bar is also known as the horizontal bar and is again a male alternative to the uneven bars. The bar is generally made from steel and is held parallel to the floor by cables and vertical supports. However, at elite level, competitors use a fibreglass core rail that’s slightly more elastic.
Suede leather grips are usually worn by competitors while competing. Different skills and grips should be showcased by competitors as part of a routine, including overgrip, undergrip, dorsal grip and mixed grip. Competitors should also turn, release, regrip and dismount.
Gymnastic Balance Beams
The balance beam, is sometimes only known as the ‘beam’. It’s the name of the object and the routine itself. The balance beam is only performed by female gymnasts.
It is a rectangular or cube shaped object which is usually made from a leather-like material and is raised from the floor by a leg at both ends.
The shape and dimensions of all balance beams must conform to standards published by the Fédération Internationale de Gymnastique. They must be 125cm high, with a width of 10cm and a length of 500cm.
The pommel horse is a men’s only exercise. Routines consist of single leg work and double leg work. Modern pommel horses are made with a metal body covered in foam rubber and leather with plastic handles on the top, known as pommels.
The pommel horse was originally designed as an artificial horse to help soldiers practice mounting and dismounting their horses in battle. As a result, the pommel horse itself is centuries old.
Safety Equipment for Artistic Gymnastics: Gymnastic Mats
Gymnastic mats are used so artistic gymnasts can practice their routines safely. They are usually made from foam that’s covered in leather with a vinyl or plastic lining. Although gymnastic mats are generally blue, they can be any colour.
Depending on the routine being practiced and the gymnast’s personal preference, the thickness of the mat can vary from 1.5 inches to 28 inches. Gymnastic mats also vary in size depending on their usage. The smallest mats are generally 4 feet by 8 feet, while larger mats tend to be 6 feet by 12 feet.
For competitions and practice, the use of mats is mandatory.
Still rings are also known as steady rings or simply as ‘rings’. Still rings require an extreme amount of upper body strength, which means that it’s commonly only performed by men. Rings are usually performed wearing ring grips.
Each ring is supported by a steel strap that is connected to a steel cable suspended from a metal frame. Each gymnast must control not only their body movements, but also the movements of the rings and cables. Each routine must consist of swing, strength and hold elements.
Rhythmic Gymnastics Equipment
Rhythmic gymnastics can be performed individually or in groups. It usually involves apparatus such as ropes, hoops, balls, clubs and ribbons, but can also be done freehand with no apparatus.
Choreography for the routine must cover the entire floor, containing jumps, leaps, pivots, balances and flexibility movements. As a result, rhythmic gymnastics routines combine not only gymnastics, but also ballet and dance.
The ribbon must weigh at least 35g, be 4-6cm in width and have a minimum length of 20’ for seniors. The ribbon must also be in one piece.
Hoops can be made of either plastic or wood. Interior diameters can range from 31cm to 91cm, with the hoop weighing a minimum of 300g. The hoop can be a colour or colours of choice, and it may also be covered in adhesive tape.
The hoop is generally used for rotation around the head or body, as well as swings, circles, throws and passes.
Ropes are generally made from hemp or a synthetic material, with its length in proportion to the size of the gymnast using the equipment. The rope is usually knotted at each end to help the gymnast keep hold of the rope during the routine. The ends of the rope can also be covered in anti-slip material, to a maximum of 10cm.
The rope must also be either fully or partially coloured and must either be the same diameter throughout or progressively thicker in the centre, as long as the thickening material is made from the same material as the rope itself.
Most competitive gymnasts usually use multi-piece clubs. This is because the airspace created provides flex and a softer impact when throwing and catching. Foam ends are also used to provide further cushioning. The clubs are generally between 19 and 21 inches long.
Skills usually involve throwing the club, rotating it in flight and catching it in the opposite hand. At the highest level, gymnasts throw triple spins, where the club rotates three times in flight.
Gymnastic balls are specialist pieces of equipment made from rubber or a synthetic material. With a minimum weight of 400g, they range from 18 to 20 centimetres in diameter. The ball can also be of any colour.
Gymnasts use the ball to emphasise their flowing lines. The ball is often thrown, bounced or rolled, and both hands must be used, whilst a continuous body movement must be shown by the gymnast.
Traditionally, female gymnasts would always wear long-sleeved leotards, but half-length sleeved and sleeveless leotards are now preferred. They are usually made from either lycra or spandex.
Male competitors, on the other hand, wear two layers of clothing: a singlet (or competition shirt) and a pair of shorts or long pants. The singlet is a sleeveless leotard. Floor and vault gymnasts usually wear a very short pair of shorts, while gymnasts for all other events wear long trousers. These are attached to the bottom of the gymnast’s feet with stirrups.
Safety Equipment for Rhythmic Gymnastics: Wedge Mats
Gymnastic wedges, also known as wedge mats or incline mats are a great way to progressively build gymnastic skills. They’re functional and versatile, and are used at all levels to increase skill, particularly in floor tumbling.
If you’re looking to start training for rhythmic gymnastics, then a wedge mat is a great place to start.
Second Hand Gymnastics Equipment
If you’re looking to save money then buying second hand gymnastics equipment is worth considering.
Unlike online or local shops, its a bit hit and miss with second hand equipment. Places like eBay and Gumtree can sometimes have great offers but you can’t count on them.
As of writing this article, we really struggled to find any quality second hand equipment and apparatus.
Particularly for home use, lots of equipment listed in this article can be bought for relatively cheaply (considering the quality and manufacturer guarantees) which is why its often better to just decide what equipment will be of most use to you and buying a trusted, reliable product.
Outdoor Gymnastics Equipment
For some gymnastics, having lots of space is really beneficial. This makes having a large garden with lots of open space a real bonus for anyone wanting to train at home or in their garden.
Depending on the size of your garden or outdoor space, you can look to buy larger pieces of apparatus.
No matter which form of gymnastics you want to purpose, it’s important you invest in the right equipment. Particularly focus on your safety to begin with and build up your skill level gradually to ensure you don’t get hurt.
If you want to take it to the next level then join a local gymnastics club and gain access to advanced training equipment and facilities. Otherwise, get yourself set up some basic equipment and start your adventure into gymnastics and gymnastics training.
Whether you’re looking to fly through the air, balance on one hand or spin and twist while suspended aerially, gymnastics is perfect for testing your body and improving your physique.
Although gymnastics can seem slightly daunting for the over 50’s, getting some gymnastics equipment and performing basic exercises can be a fantastic way to reach your fitness goals.
As a sport, it really does offer the perfect workout for those wanting to improve strength, movement, mobility and flexibility.