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Sep 22, 2020
Hello! I’m currently a senior in college working on my thesis project about redesigning home gymnastics equipment for young kids. Being a competitive gymnast up until I went to college, I have a lot of passion and experience in the field and know that home gymnastics equipment can be really intrusive and a bit of an eye sore in most homes. I’d love to hear some parents’ opinions and experiences with home equipment to get your perspectives as well as how you integrated (or didn’t integrate) it into your homes.

Please feel free to ask me any questions about this or my project as well, I’d be happy to answer them!
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I would say the general vibe of people on here is that home equipment is a bad idea because it can lead to bad habits formed at home where they arent being guided by coaches who know what they are doing. That and as you start to do higher hours (with higher levels) home should be a place for downtime so you dont over train.

I have had some home equipment over the years and generally didnt find it terribly helpful and it took up a great deal of space. I think smaller pieces of equipment that focus more on strength and drill type exercise as opposed to skill acquisition would be more beneficial (and could probably be smaller and more affordable too) The pull up bar was the best thing i got my daughter and its out of the way because its in the door frame. I like floor bars (for like presses and handstand holds) too you can work on smaller stuff and strength but i think they are a bit pricey. we built some but they arent as nice and sturdy as the ones you buy.

I wish there was a good way to do rope climbs easily at home. We dont have a Tree with a good branch. I think things that can help you build strength but dont require "skill" would be the safest for home use because they you wont be teaching your kid bad habits or risk them doing some dangerous stunt at home. Also any kind of equipment that could potentially be multi use...which once again if you are focusing on strength or shapes instead of skills that would be easier to accomplish.
I normally don't advocate for a lot of home equipment either but with COVID, we did get a bar for my daughter that we had to keep outside for lack of space (ceiling ht & just space). We did already have 2 mats and a balance beam that goes up to 24" off the ground. It does help with her BB routine but she's not allowed to dismount or do anything aerial (my rules). She uses it mostly to practice jumps, leaps, turns, etc. I suspect it will get sold next year.

We found the cheaper stuff (like the mat foldable beam someone got her) doesn't work well at all. Its being used as part of a play fort right now. Its too soft for any leaps or jumps.

My preference as a past gymnast and college athlete (different sport) and my daughters preference - multiuse items that work on body-weight conditioning. Pullups, rope climbing, monkey bars, plyo boxes, etc. If I could rework what we own, I would do a pullup bar, 3 different (nesting) plyo boxes, 2 mats, and resistance bands. Then the entire family can get in a good workout without worrying about falling off a beam or flipping onto their head.

PS I am also not a fan of air-tracks and trampolines at home. Too many broken bones in the last few months in our town
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As a DIY dad, I made the first set of home equipment (beam and bar) and while trying to research ways to make them better and safer I ran across this site and came to the conclusion that gymnastics is probably better left in the gym.

I would say what home equipment does, especially at the lower levels, is that it really makes the little one interested in the sport and also shows them that mom & dad are interested in the sport too, so in that aspect I don't regret making her the equipment and buying her a floor beam and mats. It's just when she started trying to do advanced skills at home is when it became time to take down the gymnastics bar and just put up a pull up bar that she couldn't do anything except condition on.
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We were glad to have a low beam and a bar she had outgrown during quarantine but that’s about it. Once she hit back in the gym, I don’t want her doing much at home beyond stretching.
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My son had a mushroom when he was younger. It was in the middle of our living room. We did not mind it there, but once he was in the gym more, we got rid of it.

My husband has crossfit rings that D sometimes uses,but only when he cannot go to gym. We do have a pommel horse in the basement, but it basically acts a a table when not in a quarantine due to covid lol
I understand the opposition to home equipment when it’s synonymous with CGM coaching and trying risky skills with poor or nonexistent spotting. For us it has been a lot more about strength than gaining skills. The thing is, strength when kids are young generally happens best through play - and this is where I am in favor of home equipment.

It was a big benefit at the start because my daughter’s goals weren’t finding fulfillment in a 1hr/wk sloppy rec class. I could tell she had drive and talent but not the strength to match it. Our house ended up as you describe: we had a kip bar in the middle of the living room, rings on a pull-up bar mounted to the wall above the kitchen doorway, a tramp and wedge in the corner. Yes they took up too much space and were eyesores (our house is less than 1000 sq ft), but their ready availability (ie putting them in the same spaces where I spent my time, which was where she always wanted to be) meant she began conditioning through play without even thinking about it all day every day. We rarely had a conversation where she was right side up. She did gain some lower-level skills at home, which was fine because she has naturally good form - but most of her time was just spent being a monkey and the real benefit was that she got strong. From there, she shot through levels and was invited to team.

Once she was on team and getting what she needed in the gym, we sold the bar because the cons of having it began to outweigh the pros. Still have all the other stuff plus a lot more stuff. She’s old enough to prefer to keep skills at gym, but the home equipment is regularly repurposed by all the kids for ninja and forts and we love that.
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I was so grateful for home equipment when my DD was younger. We had a folding mat, folding beam, a small trampoline, a pull up bar in a doorway. Several years ago, we added a tumble track. The mats, beam and trampoline were often in the middle of my living room. My DD was one of the highest energy kids I knew back when she was 5/6/7. She was in a rec gymnastics class, but she came home with more energy than she left with. I remember once when she was 4 or 5, she tried to use the oven handle as an uneven bar and went crashing into the floor. So while I understand why home equipment can be bad - poor form, bad habits, creating CGMs (trust me, back then my only "coaching" was "OMG stop doing that!")- for us, it was the best thing for our bouncy DD. Its much better than backbends off couches and bar tricks on kitchen appliances. Once my daughter was on team at age 8, the home equipment was used less and less. And now she is 14, and the folding mats in the basement are primarily collecting dust. But when Covid hit and gyms closed, she occasionally would get the tumble track in the backyard to works a few basic passes and leaps/jumps. If I could go back, I 100% would buy it all again!
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As mentioned above , we steered away from any equipment at home girls were in the gym enough hours (20-30 hours/week depending on which gym we were at) , and with our commute of 1-2 hours each way , the last thing they wanted to do was more gymnastics at home ...and I didn't buy any home equipment so that worked out fine. They were both multi year level competed on a D1 college team all 4 years and the other tore her ACL so she retired from the sport but had been scheduled to do college gym as well. My point is , both got there with just their hours in the gym (which for all but 3 years , were 20 hours a week).
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