And what is it about this beam which makes it safer than any other beam in the world?
It is the patented construction of the beams core or head.
You may recall those unforgiving wooden beams Nissen made all those years ago, durable and VERY hard! Nissen realized that a pad on top of the beam would soften the shock of landing and added one to their beams paving the way for others in the future.
AMF changed beams from being made of wood to being made of a hollow aluminum extrusion. Still the same feel for the athlete for all real purposes, softer than wooden yet the same as wooden with a pad.
Starting as early as the 1940’s some Americans and Europeans began exploring was to add springs into the beam core hoping to create a sort of “spring floor” for the top working surface of the beam. The US Patent Office files, as well as those offices in Europe, chronicle the MANY attempts at softening landings through a variety of interesting and creative ways….. none of which worked well enough to actually use.
After many years of these attempts it was generally believed to be impossible to add springs into the beams head or core. Here the creative thinkers began experimenting with ways to put the springs between the beam core and its support systems.
ALL beams calling themselves spring beams (except the Gym-Trix, Inc. Spring Beam) are using some form of this “spring between the beam head and leg” thinking.
Now in theory this would seem to be a good solution. Raw physics & common sense explain why this effort is of very little use to the athlete. It turns out the force of an athlete landing must travel vertically (if they are directly over the leg) at least 7”, the beam thickness, before it reaches this spring and that is if the spring attaches directly to the beam head and NONE do. The further the athlete is toward the center of the beam the further that landing energy must travel to simply reach the spring. This might be as much as 6’ from the leg AND then 7” down to the spring in that leg! What this all means to the athlete is that even “if” the beam feels the energy from the athlete landing (and this in not likely) by the time the spring is able to react to that energy it is TOO LATE FOR THE ATHLETE! In other words it is a nice thought that simply does not work well at best and most likely accomplishes nothing towards keeping the athlete landing less stressful.
Then along comes Gym-Trix, Inc.!
In 1992 we began solving the varied and many problems associated with producing a true Spring Beam, putting multiple springs right inside the beam head and putting them less than an inch directly under the athlete’s landings!
By designing a two part beam core, cleverly fitting them together, we were able to stabilize the top surface making it all but impossible to have the top compress out of level. When one edge goes down….. the other edge MUST go down with it. This means the beams feels just like any other beam with old technology for skills like full turns or dancing type movements.
Since we are now able to put actual springs right inside the beam’s head we are not limited to only two springs, one at each leg, like all the others. We are able to use multiple springs and in fact use 36 of them! Additionally these springs are less than 5/8” from the top surface of the beam in 36 different places, virtually always right under the athlete’s landings. With the springs this close to the actual force of the landing, that force is absorbed in ways that are both useful and noticeable to the athlete. This dramatically reduces the accumulative effect from repetitive landings. These are the landings required when building athletes to perfection! These are the landings that, over time, tear down the arch, ankle and heel as well as the secondary effects upon the knee, hip and lower back. How many athletes leave our sport due to nagging injuries in these areas? Also, the very dramatic falls possible while performing on balance beam are less damaging when the shock absorption of this technology is in the beam. And……. The patented Gym-Trix, Inc. Spring Beam is the only beam in the world that is allowed to use this fantastic new technology!
How The Spring Beam effects new skill development.
When athletes are leaning new skills there is a tremendous learning curve that is only conquered though an enormous amount of repetitions. While it is obviously true coaches sometimes overlook how detrimental these repetitions can be to their athlete’s body. With dance skills like leaps, jumps and turns the “mini traumas” add up over time into force that can break down an athlete’s foot, ankle or shin. Over time the constant shock of landings may even affect the knee, hip and lower back. With ballistic skills like tumbling, back/front tucks, aerials and dismounts the trauma is more instant. The immediate shock of those types of landings injure our athletes with stone bruises, bruised arches and hands.
Taking away the impact of these landings leaves the athlete less damaged, bruised and sore meaning they loose less practice time with fewer bumps and bruises which may keep them off the beam for short periods of time. There is also the “go for it” factor.
When an athlete is facing her first attempt at a new trick on the beam it is quite likely she will hold back just a little. This is a normal reaction to “the unknown” of this first attempt. Imagine after completion of that first attempt that the athlete is somehow hurt, even just a little bit. Does this make for an environment where she is willing to really go for it in the second attempt? For most athletes that answer is no. Now, suppose that after the completion of that first attempt it did not hurt, even though she may have missed it? Upon preparing for the second attempt that athlete will now be “free from the same levels of fear as with the first attempt”!!! This only means she will more aggressively make that second attempt and this means she will acquire the new skill more quickly!
This is why we say with confidence:
The Gym-Trix, Inc. Spring Beam is:
THE BEST BALANCE BEAM IN THE WORLD!