The balance beam requires precision and skill and it a gymnastic event that requires a lot of time and dedication to master. When you see professional gymnasts and Olympians on the balance beam, they make it look so effortless and graceful that you might just watch in awe because you know it’s much, much harder than it looks. Still, those gymnasts had to start somewhere. If you have a child who is starting to get into gymnastics and is showing a particular talent or interest in the balance beam, there are several models that you can easily incorporate into your own home setting to get them started.
There are a variety of balance beams you can buy to help your gymnast grow and advance on the beam. If you need some help figuring out which one would be best for your home, we’ve created a buyer’s guide to help you make sense of all your options.
Balance Beam Comparison Chart
In the US, there are several different defined skill levels for gymnasts and there are different beams available for each. It’s important to buy the right one. Purchasing a beam that is too advanced will likely result in an accident.
Beginner beams are for the youngest gymnasts or for those who have a little experience but are just starting to use the balance beam. They are shaped a little differently than more advanced beams because they tend to have sloped sides that results in an oblong shape. The top of a beginner beam is 4 inches across, the same size as a competition beam. But it slopes down to about 6 inches across and is only about 2 inches off the ground. This offers more support and stability. The goal is for the gymnast to get used to being on the beam without getting hurt. A fall only results in a short tumble to the ground.
Beginner beams sit directly on the floor and are made of thick padded foam. The soft material helps avoid injury and keeps the gymnast’s anxiety at bay because there’s less chance that she’ll get hurt. A mat should also be added for additional safety.
These are for athletes with a little more experience who are ready to advance past the beginner beam and try more advanced techniques. Junior beams are more similar to competition beams in their shape and construction. Most have a wooden core and are covered with the same kind of synthetic suede as competition beams. It’s also square shaped, 4 inches high and wide, so gymnasts can learn to get accustomed to regulation sizes.
The biggest difference between Junior beams and more advanced models is height. Junior beams are slightly raised off the floor, but only a few inches. This is to get the gymnast used to the different shape and material to work on her skills while keeping the injury risk at a minimum. Again, a mat under the beam is recommended.
Advanced beams are for the most experienced gymnasts. The main differences between a Junior and Advanced beam is the height. These beams sit at least a foot off the ground to allow for more complicated routines. They’re usually about 8 feet long and have a steel center to make them really durable so there’s no fear of cracking the beam with jumps or tumbles.
Most people don’t have room in their home to leave an 8-foot long balance been sitting out all the time. It’s also not good to leave them outside as the suede covering, padding or wood interior could be damaged by rain or being in direct sunlight. Luckily, you can buy balance beams that fold in half so the can be easily slid under a bed or couch when not being used.
Beams that can fold often have unique problems with wear and tear. The ends are the part of the beam that wear the fastest and, since these beams fold into two, they have four ends in total. The middle ends will rub together a little with assembly and use, so it’s likely that the center will be susceptible to some wear and tear.
There are some brands that manufacture beams that are versatile and can be adjusted in various ways so that they can last a little longer. You’ll find some beams that have built-in methods of being securely attached to one another end to end to make an 8 or even 12 feet long beam. There are also brands that are made to have different support attachments so you can easily adjust the height from mere inches to about 3 feet off the ground.
What is good about these beams is that if your gymnast sticks with it, you won’t need to spend a lot more to upgrade to a more appropriate one.
Balance Beam Reviews
The Beam Store manufactures some of the most effective training beams in the industry. They have a strong wooden core that’s composed of nearly twice the amount of wood as their competitors. It won’t flex or bend and can hold a weight capacity of 250 pounds doing leaps and jumps. This version is eight feet long and doesn’t need a center support, allowing a mat to be easily placed underneath.
The padding is the same that used on competition beams so you’ll get a more realistic experience and an easier transition from training beam to competition. The cover is made of heavy suede that’s durable, won’t slip, and is available in five different bright, fun colors.
Another way the Beam Store replicates the feel of a competition beam is by having slightly curved sides. This will provide the same hand grip and a more realistic training experience. The ends are reinforced to keep them from wearing too fast, which will make this beam last much longer. The padding is also the same as what is used on competition beams – closed cell polyethylene foam.
This beam is ideal for anyone looking to compete because it really does create an experience that is as close to the competition beam as you can get. It’s 4 inches wide, 7 inches high, and has 12 in wide support braces. As your athlete gets more experience, you can even add beam legs for height.
- Realistic competition training experience
- Can add legs for height
- No center support beam needed
- Suede can tear easily
This low profile balance beam has a strong wooden core that is so strong and durable, it can hold up to 500 pounds – nearly double the weight of its competition. It won’t bend or warp and it doesn’t need a central support beam.
It’s regulation size – about 8 feet long, 6 inches high, and 4 inches wide. The cover is made of soft, purple synthetic suede that is really durable and can stand up to a lot of wear and tear. The ⅜ inch polyethylene padded top covers the competition grade rounded edges. The surface is easy to clean and provide good traction and grip.
This beam is reasonably priced and durable. It has pre-drilled holes to add braces, too, so it will grow with your gymnast’s skills.
- Difficult to store
The Brianna Balance Beam from Tumbl Trak has a solid wood core with ¼ inch rubber padding for safety. It’s really easy to set up and equipped to connect to another Brianna Balance Beam end to end so you can get a beam that’s 16 feet long. Each comes with a wide, sturdy dowel in one end that can insert into a hole in another beam. If you’re only using one, the dowel is easily hidden by a cover flap. The legs are made of solid wood, covered in foam, and stylishly studded vinyl for that extra little bit of style. You can get legs in purple, pink, or blue.
Tumbl Trak has been making gymnastic equipment for more than 25 years. With the Brianna Balance Beam, they’ve created a strong, safe product that parents, coaches, and gymnasts will love. While this option is a little more expensive, the brand is well known and the product is durable enough to last awhile.
- Easy to connect two together for a total of 16 feet
- A little expensive
Another offering from the Beam Store that offers a training experience that’s close to competition. The closed cell polyethylene foam padding is the same as that which is used on competition beams. The covering is similar, too, a heavy grade synthetic suede like material that will provide close to the same grip and feel as competition beams.
The beam slopes down from 4 inches wide at the top to 6 inches wide at the bottom and is 3 inches high. This beam can be folded in half for easy storage under a bed, couch, or in a closet. You can even easily toss it into the trunk of a car. The durable hinge is made of steel and it has handles for easy carrying that tuck up into the bottom when the beam is in use.
Since it folds in half, this beam has two halves. This means it has four ends and the ends are the part of the beam that wears the most. The covering on the inside of the beam rubs together a bit from opening and closing the beam and is prone to thinning and possibly holes.
- Foldable and easy to store
- Competition like cover and shape
- Reasonable prices
- Cover can wear quickly on the ends
This is a balance beam for beginners who are ready to move on to something that’s a little more advanced than a foam beam that sits at floor level. Gymnast Hut has made an entry level beam that is 8 feet long and 4 inches wide that is constructed of solid wood. It’s padded with ⅜ inch of foam rubber and covered in synthetic suede. You can pick from six different colors: tan, pink, Caribbean blue, lime, or eggplant.
One really great thing about Gymnast Hut balance beams is they’re really versatile. Each comes with predrilled holes to add a riser so that this beam can get increasingly difficult as your gymnast hones her skills. You’ll have to buy each set separately, but the company makes a lot of different choices: 12, 18, and 24-inch height as well as adjustable risers that can go from 12 – 18, 18 – 24, and 24 – 36 inches. This is a beam that will remain useful for a very long time.
- A lot of adjustable heights to choose from
- Solid wood construction
- Comes in six colors
- Have to buy risers separately
If you’re looking for something that’s a little longer, the Beam Store’s Sectional Tan Balance Beam is made up of an 8-foot long beam and a 4-foot long beam for a total length of 12 feet. They connect with a durable inner connecting brace that attaches from the bottom of the beam and doesn’t affect performance. The whole thing can be put together in under two minutes.
The boards themselves are strong and won’t bend, warp, or twist. They’re shaped like competition beams with a slight curve on the top. Even the padding and cover are the same as competition beams: heavy-duty synthetic suede over a closed cell polyethylene foam. It’s durable and easy to clean with a 4-inch wide work surface and a 7-inch height.
The wood core can hold up to 250 pounds without the support of a center beam. This allows you to easily slip a mat under the beam. The feel and grip are similar to competition beams and the reinforced ends protect the beams from wear.
- Extra long
- Competition like feel
- Junction between the two pieces is sometimes noticeable
If you’re looking for something that’s a little more intense once your gymnast is on an advanced level, this balance beam from the Beam Store is the one to consider. It’s made of cross grain, laminated wood that won’t warp or twist and doesn’t require a center support. This makes it easy to slide a mat underneath it for additional safety.
This beam is built to resemble the kind that will be used in competition. It has the same oval shape, padding, and covering. The heavy grade synthetic material is durable and really easy to keep clean.
The biggest difference between this beam and the other we reviewed is the height. The support beams for this balance beam are designed to adjust from 15 to 30 inches high. This balance beam can advance with you gymnast and makes for great practice even on pretty advanced levels.
- Adjustable height from 15 to 30 inches
- Competition like feel
- Only for use with advanced athletes
Final Thoughts & Recommendations
The Beam Store Suede Balance Beam is designed to resemble a competition beam in shape, padding, and feel which makes it easier to transition from practicing to competing. This 8-foot long beam doesn’t need a center support beam which makes it easy to slide a mat underneath for added safety. It’s available in five bright colors and can be adjusted for height as your athlete gets more and more skilled.
The Non-Folding Low Profile Competition Style Balance Beam from Joom Beem has a strong, durable wooden core that holds up to twice as much weight as its competition – up to 500 pounds. It won’t bend or warp and doesn’t need a center support beam. It’s covered with a bright, fun synthetic suede that’s durable and won’t easily wear. There are pre-drilled holes so that braces can be attached to add height as needed.
Tumbl Trak’s Brianna Balance Beam is made of a solid wood core covered in ¼ inch of padding. It’s easy to set up and is designed to attach to another Brianna Beam from end to end to extend it from 8 to 16 feet. The legs are solid wood, covered in foam, and covered in brightly colored, studded vinyl for a little bit of style. Tumbl Trak has been around for more than 25 years so you know you can trust this brand.
The Folding Balance Beam from the Beam Store solves the problem of how to store your balance beam. Unless you have room in your home to leave an 8-foot long balance beam out all the time, easy storage is a must. The padding and covering of this beam is designed to mimic competition beams though it does taper down to make this a sturdy, solid beam for beginners. It has a double hinge where the beam folds in half for easy storage under a bed or couch.
For an entry-level beam that can be adjusted to various heights, try the Gymnast Hut Padded Suede Balance Beam. It’s strong and sturdy, made of solid wood and padded with ⅜ inch of foam rubber. The synthetic suede cover comes in five different colors so you can get a balance beam that has a bit of personality. You can get various rises, including adjustable ones, that can change the height of this balance beam from 12 to 36 inches. This is one that can definitely grow with your gymnast.
The Sectional Tan Balance Beam from the Beam Store has the same quality as all Beam Store products. Shaped like a competition beam and covered with the same padding and suede, the solid wood core is durable and strong. This beam is really an 8-foot beam and a 4-foot beam that attach to make one long 12 foot one.
If you’re looking for some height, try the Beam Store 30 inch Adjustable 8 Feet Suede Balance Beam. This is an advanced beam for gymnasts who are ready to take it to the next level. It doesn’t require a center support so sliding a mat underneath it is easy and essential since it can be raised to 30 inches high. With its competition like feel and construction, this is a great beam to have for those gymnasts who are ready to move to the highest levels of the sport.
Finding the best balance beam does not have to be overwhelming. In fact, once you break down the things you need to know and the qualities to look for, you should be able to easily decide what level beam you need. If you use our buying guide to help break down what’s available and look at the seven best balance beams of 2017, you should be able to figure out one that will work for you and your gymnast.