Gymnastics mats and more
Gymnastics continues to climb in popularity as a sport, due in part to the attention gymnastics events receive at the Summer Olympic Games every four years. While gymnastic activities involve basic movements like running, jumping, climbing and tumbling, gymnastics equipment and specialized gymnastic clothing can improve both an athlete's performance and their enjoyment of the sport.
Equipment for Gymnastics
Gymnastics is made up of a great number of individual events; the equipment used for each event occasionally overlaps, but is usually different. Gymnastics mats are used for many aspects of the sport; floor exercises are performed directly on the mats, and many other events use the mats for dismounting and for safety in the case of a fall.
Other major pieces of equipment used in gymnastics include:
- The balance beam, a long beam with padding upon which gymnasts perform choreographed acrobatics, dance moves and somersaults.
- The high bar, a parallel bar used by gymnasts to perform moves like circles, spins, changes of direction and transitional moves.
- The uneven bars, a set of one higher bar and one lower bar which are parallel; gymnasts uses these bars for swings, flips and turnarounds.
- The pommel horse, a short padded beam with two handles on top where gymnasts perform single leg swings, double leg swings and handstands.
- The rings, which are suspended on ropes hanging from the ceiling and allow the gymnast to perform moves that demonstrate strength and balance.
- The vault, a platform that gymnasts jump to when launched from a springboard to perform somersaults and twisting moves.
Gymnastics as a sport requires flexibility and total range of motion, so clothing must have the ability to stretch. For workouts, women often wear gymnastic leotards with shorts, but when performing in a meet, showier leotards are worn. Men tend to wear sleeveless shirts and shorts or pants when performing gymnastic activities. When not performing, many gymnasts wear sports apparel such as warm-up pants and zip-front jackets to keep their muscles warm.
Accessories that are used in gymnastics include wristbands, hand grips, ankle and wrist supports and magnesium carbonate. Many people refer to magnesium carbonate as gymnastics chalk; it serves to keep the gymnast's hands dry while they are practicing or performing.