One of the most elegant and electrifying events in gymnastics, the balance beam is an obstacle with an allure all its own. For aspiring gymnasts and all athletes who want to practice their balance, this allure extends beyond the gym. That’s right: an at-home practice balance beam is an excellent way to refine routines, hone general balance, and even improve flexibility. When it comes to actually buying a balance beam, there are several factors to consider. In this guide, our experts at AirTrack cover all of them.
What is a Balance Beam?
A balance beam is a long, narrow obstacle and focal point of one of four primary events in women’s gymnastics. In the balance beam event, gymnasts stand atop the balance beam and perform a routine consisting of turns, flips, and other maneuvers. Balance beams are used by both male and female athletes to improve balance and flexibility.
Balance Beam Skill Types
Depending on a gymnast’s skill level, he or she will perform several different skills on a balance beam. The most common balance beam skill types include:
- Holds, Scales, and Handstands
- Acrobatic Moves
Types of Gymnastic Balance Beams for Home Use & Gym
When selecting a balance beam for home and gym use, you’ll have a number of options to choose from, and a number of factors to consider. These factors include length, width, and color. However, the most important factor is whether the beam sits on the ground or off. Ultimately, it’s up to the athlete, coach, or gym owner to weigh each of these factors against their individual needs to find the right beam.
In the sections that follow, our experts at AirTrack provide insight each on these factors while comparing different types of balance beam gymnastics equipment. Tall vs. Short: Learn why low-beam gymnastics and inflatable balance beam products are the better choice for training, and why you want the best of both worlds when it comes to beam width.
Off-Ground Balance Beams
Balance beams come in a wide range of heights — each with benefits and drawbacks proportional to its distance to the ground. The taller a balance beam is, the better it is at simulating competition and the harder falls from it will feel. The shorter the balance beam, the safer it is and the harder it will seem for users to feel like they’re in a competition.
A competitive gymnast balance beam is 125 centimeters (or 4.1 feet) off the floor. Practice beams for home use are rarely taller than this. For those who want to simulate a competitive feel, off-ground beams certainly add beneficial pressure. However, they also add pressure of a different kind. The fall from 4 feet doesn’t always feel so good. For those trying out new maneuvers and falling frequently, sometimes lower is better.
On-Ground & Folding Balance Beams
Moving to the other end of the spectrum, on-ground balance beams have no space between their undersides and the top of the ground There’s a reason for this ultra-low height: it helps prevent rolled ankles and other leg injuries while still giving the gymnasts the feeling of a raised platform. Low balance beam gymnastics is superior for those training (and falling) frequently. This is especially true if your low balance beam is also an inflatable gymnastics beam.
After height, the next characteristic to consider when shopping for a practice balance is material—specifically, what the beam itself is made of. Today’s competitive beams are spring-loaded to reduce stress from high-difficulty maneuvers and covered in leather or suede to achieve a balance of softness and grip. However, there is no denying it: competition gymnastics balance beams are hard. A fall on one isn’t likely to feel good, and may even cause injury. Likewise, low beams with hard materials may prevent falls, but they can cause rolled ankles due to their rigidity.
Alternatively, soft balance beams provide a safer, more cushioned experience for training. In the soft category, athletes typically have two choices: foam and air. The heavier and slightly more cushioned of the two options, foam balance beams are filled with strong foam and lined with rubber for durability. Inflatable balance beams, on the other hand, are lighter and provide more rebound than their foam-filled counterparts. This makes them a great choice for those in search of a feel that more closely resembles competition beams, with extra safety and convenience that’s great for use in the home or in the gym. Plus, inflatable balance beams can be deflated and rolled-up for efficient storage, making them a great for any space.
Advanced Height Balance Beams
Those trying to simulate competition may wish for a balance beam with more height. On the market today, there are many “advanced height” balance beams with off-ground heights ranging from several inches all the way up to the competition standard 4.1 feet.
Advanced height balance beams are a good choice for facilities that may be hosting competitions, as they can serve double-duty as training beams and competition beams. These beams are also a good choice for more experienced athletes looking to put their skills to the test.
Training Balance Beams
We’ve already shown why a training balance beam should be low to the ground and soft. There is one more factor to consider when searching for a training beam: width. Should you go wide maximum safety or narrow for accurate competition simulation? The answer, appropriately, strikes a balance. On the one hand, wide beams maximize safety and help athletes work up to new maneuvers. On the other hand, narrow beams accurately simulate competition-level dimensions (10 centimeters or 3.9 inches) to help athletes hone their skills on the big stage. Ideally, you want the best of both worlds—width to keep your safe and narrowness to simulate competition and improve balance. That’s exactly what our AirBeam inflatable balance beam provides.
Designed for serious athletes and new balance beam enthusiasts alike, the AirBeam features over a foot of total width to optimize safety during even the most advanced maneuvers. Down the center of the AirBeam, a 4-inch wide and 2.5-millimeter-thick center line helps gymnasts feel competition-sized beam dimensions with their feet. It’s the right balance of safety and precision.
Adjustable Balance Beams
In some cases, athletes, coaches, or gyms may wish to have multiple heights for their balance beams. After all, not all gymnasts have the same skill level, and some may be working on different maneuvers. Instead of investing in several different-sized balance beams, users may find every dimension they’re looking for in an adjustable balance beam.
Adjustable balance beams feature height-adjustable and/or removable legs that allow athletes to switch between a number of heights. This is a great feature for gyms with many athletes, or individual athletes working on different skill sets.
Shop Today for Inflatable Balance Beams With AirTrack
If you’re wondering where to buy an inflatable balance beam for your home or gym, you’re in the right place. We’ve already covered one of the biggest benefits of our AirBeam inflatable balance beam: a safe width with a raised and textured center line to give athletes the feel of a competition-level beam. But the benefits of the AirBeam don’t stop there. Here are a few reasons to choose the AirBeam and other balance beam gymnastics equipment from our team here at AirTrack.
- Two AirBeam sizes for all acrobats.
- USA-made quality.
- Industry-leading safety standards.
- 35 years of experience.
- An extensive range of products for any home or gym.
Have more questions about balance beams? Ready to give AirTrack and the AirBeam a try? Our team is here to help make your buying experience the best in the world. Explore our site to learn more about our industry-leading brand, and reach out to have your questions answered by our friendly and knowledgeable experts.