When I was a young gymnast first starting, I never had anyone around to help me prepare and buy the essentials I needed for gymnastics. There wasn’t much required in the beginning; however, if I had a guide, it would’ve saved me so much trouble into the future when I excelled.
As gymnasts excel in their levels by adding new and advanced skills to their performances, it’s crucial to have the correct attire and gear to protect and steer them in the right direction. With an improvement in skills requires more rehabilitation time for the body to heal. To most people’s surprise, gymnastics is a brutal sport that’s incredibly harsh on the body. With all the pounding and landing, it’s bound for the body to over exhaust itself.
All gymnastics workout in the standard fitted clothing called a leotard. Leotards are a closed fitting one piece-garment that’s made of stretchy fabric that covers a person’s body from the top of the shoulders to the top of the thighs. There are three main types of leotards.
They are sleeveless, long sleeves, and unitards. The sleeveless leotards and unitards are mainly used for training, and the long sleeves leotards are worn for competitions, are more decorative, and are much more pricey. The prices depend on what brand you’re purchasing it from and whether it will be used competitively.
Shorts: Most gymnasts choose to wear shorts over their leotards when they practice. It’s more comfortable for them and less revealing. However, most coaches require them to wear tight fitted shorts to avoid clothing being caught on equipment. Loose clothing isn’t permitted in gymnastics.
Tights: Instead of shorts, many choose to also wear tights over their leotards to stay warm, protect themselves from rope and bar burns, and to be even more comfortable.
Ponytails: Its vital for all athletes to pull their hair back when doing any physical activity. It’s even more critical for gymnasts because long hair can become a huge hazard and get in the way of your face when you are performing dangerous skills.
Grips: Grips are devices worn on the hands-on gymnasts when performing on an apparatus called uneven bars and high bar for men. It’s optional to use, but most use them to grasp the bar better, which prevents messy slip-ups and falls. It gives the gymnast a sense of stability, which is especially helpful when doing strenuous skills.
A common misconception that many people believe is that grips are used for protection against rips (when several layers of skin are removed from the wrist and palm area). Though grips are usually positioned and placed in the same area where rips occur, that doesn’t mean it’s going to protect or prevent you from getting any more. I thought this for the longest time and would get extremely aggravated when I received them.
Wristbands: Wrist bands are placed under the grips to provide comfort for your wrists. They also act as a glue for the grips to stay on when doing skills on bars.
Tape: Tape is used to stabilize muscles (mainly ankles), cover rips. and is utilized on the body to have better grips on all the apparatuses.
Chalk: The gym you train at should own chalk that you can use. Chalk is placed on your hands when doing uneven bars and on your feet when doing beam. It prevents your body from slipping easily by drying up the moisture (sweat).
Ankle Support Brace: If you’re starting in gymnastics with weak ankles, it’s vital to have protection to prevent injuries. Due to gymnastics being demanding on the body, casualties are unavoidable, however until your body is strong enough, ankle braces will stabilize your muscles while also safeguarding them.
Equipment and Gear For Home
Purchasing equipment is NOT required in any means; however, if wanted, it’s certainly beneficial. Some accessible equipment is:
Panel Mat: These mats are the most widespread equipment used in gymnastics. They are accessible, portable, easy to fold, and can be converted into hundreds of uses. Not only do athletes use it to practice skills, but coaches utilize it for conditioning purposes. The thickness varies depending on where and whom you buy it from, as well as why you’re using it.
Air Beam: This is a fair innovation, but very helpful for gymnasts who need an extra bounce within their skills. This is one of my favorite home equipment due to how easy it is to deflate and store.
Parelletes: These are modeled as a minibar used to work om skills like press handstands, handstand pirouettes, and more. It’s short, small and pretty lightweight.
Theraband: Most coaches give gymnasts therabands to activate and engage their abdominal muscles.
Recovery/Treatment at home
Proper recovery for a gymnast is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT. When your body is always on the move and performing strenuous, grueling, and demanding workouts, it’s vital for your body to recover to sustain your health and prevent injuries properly. If you already have injuries, then it’s your responsibility to take care of your self even more. Proper recovery and treatment at home are:
Sleep: Sleep is crucial for recovering. Without it, you’ll suffer significantly because your muscles won’t be regenerating and healing. You’ll also be more prone to injuries. Adequate sleep for all athletes should be 7-8 hours.
Ice Baths: After a long hard practice, your muscles are very tight and sore. Ice baths reduce inflammation and improve your recovery by changing the way blood and fluids flow throughout your body.
Cream/Balms for rips: Gymnasts and weightlifters know the horrible pain of getting rips. Its all bloody, messy and has a dreadful burning sensation when it touches any surface or liquid (mainly water). Luckily, there are many remedies out there that soothe, numb and increase the healing process. First, clean the rip (warning it will be painful). Then apply any balm or creams like Neosporin, Vaseline, and one that I used called Bag Balm. After you apply it, cover it with a bandage and sleep.
Hot Baths with Epson Salt: I know I said ice baths, and now I’m saying hot showers; however, ice baths are used when your muscles need to recover faster and hot baths are used to relax and unwind the body. After a hard practice, your muscles are tight and can cause discomfort. A warm bath combined with Epson salt will flush out toxins and loosen stiff muscles and joints.
Jump, Flip, and Land!
Gymnastics is a diverse and challenging sport with several gears and clothes to help you get in a habitual state with your skills overall. Never be overwhelmed and remember the equipment I mentioned aren’ t required, but are only there if you want it. New coming gymnasts are always welcome to use this as a guide to get started and excel in all their endeavors.