If you’re into gymnastics, you are probably aware of all the craze around inflatable gym mats. Traditional padded mats are OK, but once you’ve done a handstand snap down on an air block or a neat tumbling routine down a 20-feet air track, you can never go back to practicing only on regular mats.
If you’re just starting out as a gymnast, impressed by all the jumps and flips you’ve seen on Youtube, you’re probably wondering: How do I start tumbling?
The truth is, you can start practicing anywhere – at home, in a gym, in nature, using only what you’ve got. But due to the nature of this beautiful activity, it’s highly advisable to invest in an equipment that will not only make your practice routine more fun, but also much, MUCH safer.
Hence, the popularity of inflatable gym mats such as our today’s recommendation – an air block.
What Is an Air Block?
An air block is a rectangular or square shaped inflatable tumble mat that is similar to an air track, but smaller and thicker. It can be used alone or in combination with other products such as air tracks, air spots, etc.
They provide a high degree of shock absorption, so the gymnast who is practicing different skills on an air block can feel more confident without fearing a painful injury.
What Skills Can You Practice Using an Air Block?
Air blocks are perfect for different conditioning and balance exercises, as well as for practicing skills such as handstand snap downs, standing back tops, back handsprings, back flips, aerials, etc.
If you’ve been tumbling for a while and have already collected a few of these neat pieces of gym equipment, you can use an air block with your other mats. You can velcro or strap the air block to your air track to create an interesting obstacle and spice up your routine, or just to give you an extra padding to practice your skills off it.
If you’re combining air blocks with other mats, you can have more options for skills to practice, and more confidence knowing you won’t get hurt trying out a new move.
What Are the Advantages of an Air Block Over Other Gym Mats?
As we mentioned, inflatable mats in general are safer than regular mats because of their thicker padding and bounciness.
Air blocks come with a few more perks that make them very popular with tumbling enthusiasts:
- They are smaller and lighter than air tracks, which makes them very easy to pack and take anywhere. Though air tracks provide more tumbling options, sometimes it’s a hassle to deflate them, whereas air blocks can easily be carried around inflated because they don’t take a lot of space.
- They are thicker than air mats, so they provide a raised surface that allows gymnasts a better platform for many moves (we already mentioned some – handstand snap downs, standing back tops, back handsprings, etc.).
- Air blocks are very versatile – can be used on any surface, indoors or outdoors, by kids and adults, amateurs and professionals. When stacked on an air track, they are stable and don’t skid, though you can strap them for extra safety. Since they are waterproof and filled with air, you can also use them for a lot of fun in the water.
How Thick Should a Tumbling Mat Be?
The thickness of a tumbling mat depends on the type of skill you plan to practice on it.
When it comes to air blocks, they need to be thicker than air mats to provide that extra stability for handsprings, conditioning exercises, and to be used as a raised surface for creative obstacles (when used in combination with an air track).
Starzcom offers one size thickness – 8 inches – because it provides the right level of stability, bounciness, and safety from injuries.