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If your gymnastics program has a foam pit, you might be wondering how your facility will reopen following COVID-19. Foam pits have a long documented history of issues: fire safety, health and carcinogen exposure, regular replacement costs, etc. In fact, the COVID-19 epidemic may well be the straw that finally breaks the camel’s back for the future of foam pits in your facility.

Facilities across the country are opening with foam pits remaining shut down or closed off. This represents a substantial physical portion of your facility in which the future remains unknown. Many facility operators, however, are making the switch from foam pits to airbags and there’s plenty of support behind their decision.

Most gymnastics programs don’t realize airbags have been around a long time. They represent a significant percentage of fall attenuation answers in trampoline parks, cirque performance, industry safety, fire rescue and ski resorts. They are a perfectly reasonable and, in many ways, better alternative to traditional gymnastics foam pits.

There are many questions to ask in deciding whether an airbag is an appropriate investment — however, the question of whether airbags offer the same level of training opportunity and safety requirements as foam pits is a resounding yes.

The primary compromise in switching from a foam pit to an airbag is a cultural one — gymnastics facilities are used to foam pits. Airbags are different, but different is not bad. Airbags allow for:

  • Cleaner facilities. This applies to both your pit and the rest of the gym. Foam particles find their way across the gym, on clothing and in waiting areas. Airbags eliminate all those particulates.
  • Cheaper maintenance costs. When looking at the recurring replacement costs of foam pits combined with annual payroll costs of regular pit cleanings, you’ll find your upfront investment pays off quickly.
  • Higher throughput. Kids getting “stuck” in foam pits is non-existent in airbags. That means more turns, more fun and a better experience.
  • Better facility aesthetics. The look of your facility is going to be on the forefront of every parent’s mind post-COVID. Having a pit that looks good and adds to your facility’s environment will be invaluable.

It’s important to realize expertise and quality matter in looking for an airbag solution. It’s not suggested to entrust the safety of your gymnasts to an airbag company that specializes in bounce houses.

Reputation matters and past history matters. Look for an airbag company with a history of working with well-respected training facilities like the San Diego UNITED Training Center, Las Vegas Circus Center or Legacy Gymnastics. They are out there.

Use this COVID-19 challenge to actually improve your facility. Consider replacing your foam pits with airbags.

 

 

Joe Gram is the owner of AirTrackFactoryUS and TrueMovementTech, specializing in inflatable training solutions for the highest levels of athletic performance and training. He can be reached at joe@airtrackus.com, or visit airtrackus.com and truemovement.tech.

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Joe Gram

Joe Gram is the owner of AirTrackFactoryUS and TrueMovementTech, specializing in inflatable training solutions for the highest levels of athletic performance and training. He can be reached at joe@airtrackus.com, or visit airtrackus.com and truemovement.tech.

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