This week I set up our gymnastics equipment in the garden for the children, and shared a few photographs in my Instagram stories. As always, I was inundated with messages asking about our equipment, so I've put it all here in a handy blog post.
With Covid19 cases rising again in the UK, it doesn't look like Bean will be returning to her weekly gymnastics classes any time soon. We're still avoiding busy playgrounds too, so I've never been more grateful to have a small selection of gymnastics equipment for her to use freely at home.
This was Bean's 8th birthday present (we have the single version of this brand), and it has been one of the best investments I've made for her physical development. The progress she has made with free access, all day, every day has been astounding. I've noticed such a difference in her improved upper body strength, flexibility and stamina. Whenever we are outside in the garden, you'll find her swinging about on it!
We followed detailed instructions (shared in one of the Amazon reviews), to cement plastic pipes into the ground, underneath a layer of turf. This means that it is safe and secure, and that I can quickly and easily lift the whole thing out of the ground for winter storage, mowing the lawn, setting up the paddling pool etc. I didn't actually bother to pack it away over last winter, and it's still as good as new.
We have the Ikea gymnastics mat, which is cheap and cheerful, and does the job for us. It's definitely NOT recommended for supporting and protecting the body during high impact gymnastics. It works for us because Bean is no longer a beginner. She's been having gymnastics tuition for 4 years, and is able to use her gymnastics bar safely and with confidence. If you're looking for a mat for your young child to use with the bar, I'd recommend that you invest wisely in a decent crash mat, such as this one. We'll be sourcing a better mat when we move her bar up to the next setting.
It is, however, perfect for floor work. Forward rolls, cartwheels, splits etc. I like that it is wipeable, so we can use it outdoors, and it concertina folds for storage. It is significantly cheaper if you can get to an Ikea store.
Beam work is Bean's least favourite gymnastics practice. I bought her this gymnastics beam for Christmas last year, hoping that it might increase her confidence and enjoyment in beam work.
It hasn't had the love that I'd hoped it would, not because it isn't a great piece of equipment, but likely because I've tried to encourage something in her that she's not naturally drawn to. It reminds me of the quote doing the rounds within the HE community, 'If your child loves tennis, but struggles with maths, most parents would source a math tutor. Imagine what might happen if you found a tennis instructor instead?'
It's a nice little piece of kit. Like the gym mat, it is wipeaple and folds in half for storage.
We have two books from this series of three, and I highly recommend them both. We have Head Over Heels About Gymnastics: Floor Skills and Head Over Heels About Gymnastics: Floor Beam. The third in the series is all about pair and trio work, which isn't really useful to Bean as an only child. Both books feature pictorial instructions for warm up techniques and relevant skills. They've been so useful in preparing for the British Gymnastics Core Proficiency Badges.
Both books are spiral bound and are printed front and back on a thick, lightly laminated paper. The books are designed to stand up, with an inbuilt cardboard insert, so that you can flick the pages over and follow the instructions while you work.
Another book that has inspired Bean on her gymnastics journey has been Becoming an Olympic Gymnast. It's an autobiography, written for children by Olympic gymnast Beth Tweddle. If your young gymnast dreams of Olympic stardom, it's a useful insight into the demands of the journey.