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AirBags & Gymnastics – Are We There Yet?

My, how the world has changed in a short period of time. As most gym owners can attest, the new normal is hardly recognizable and if you want to stay in the game, you have to adapt…quickly. To sum it up, facility cleanliness is key going forward   

One aspect of the gym everyone is a little unsure about is the foam block pit. There is hardly a gymnastics facility in the country without one. However, in today’s environment, with respect to cleanliness, foam block pits seem to come with a stigma that may have existed before but most were able put it out of their mind. There’s no denying that foam pits are challenging to keep clean. It is a process that involves hours of time and dozens of people lending a hand to make it happen. 

As you may be aware, there is an alternative and you shouldn’t shy away from it. That’s right, it’s the AirBag. I can assure you, they are not just for tramp parks anymore. Manufacturers have been working hard on this product to make them a better fit for any gymnastics facility. 

So, let’s get right to it and discuss the AirBag so you can make a more educated decision for your facility:

1. Fully Customizable Shape & Size – Gymnastics pits come is all shapes and sizes. “L” shapes, “U” shapes, long channels, large rectangles, and even hour glass shaped. The good news is the AirBag can be made in any shape you can imagine. So that crazy polygon hole you have in the ground can easily be filled with a perfectly customized AirBag. 

2.  Cleaning & Maintenance  – The HUGE bonus of owning an airbag is the ease of which you can clean it. We all know too well the method for cleaning out the foam block pit – Wrangle up multiple staff members and a team of kids and start throwing foam out of the pit and then bang out each and every block. It is a tedious task to say the least. Also, foam pit blocks can be impregnated with fire retardants, which become airborne in the form of dust particles. 

This is where the AirBag outshines foam block by a long shot. It has a top sheet that can be removed by two staff members in a matter of minutes. That top sheet can then be cleaned and replaced. With the AirBag you won’t have to worry about filthy socks or other nasty items sinking down into your pit and making a home for months. 

In addition, Anti-Microbial top sheets are also available, which kills micro-organisms and stops growth – so no need to wash daily! It’s the same price as a normal top sheet so that’s pretty awesome!

3. Landings – There are some major differences with landing on an airbag compared to foam block. Both systems are designed to create a landing area that is extremely safe when it comes to awkward landings. Is injury possible with the both systems? Yes, of course, but the risk is substantially reduced due to how each are constructed. I think this is where gym owners are a little skeptical of the airbag system. They know foam block systems, they are comfortable with them, and they know for the most part they are very safe if installed properly. 

Well, more good news on the airbag is that the technology has evolved over the last several years to create a system with redundancies and other safety mechanisms. Let’s take a look at the construction of the airbag. 

One question many people have is whether or not you can bottom out an airbag. Engineers have taken this question seriously and have devoted lots of time in to creating a system that is next to impossible to bottom out. The safety zone (the bottom layer of air) is a key feature that prevents anyone from bottoming out. Well, what if the blower malfunctions and the airbag deflates? To deal with this scenario, the AirBag (aka Smart AirBag) has 3 different built-in safety features. 

1. Blower Alarm – Visual and audible alarm goes off any time a blower malfunctions 

2. Pressure Sensor – there is a sensor located in the airbag that is able to read the pressure within the bag and that pressure is displayed so one can determine whether it is within the appropriate limits.

3. Traffic Light – basically like it sounds. It shows a constant green when it is safe to land on the bag, yellow when there may be an issue, and red when it is completely unsafe to land

Since we are discussing landings on the airbag, it is definitely worth mentioning one really cool feature that would be appealing to a lot of gym owners. Pressure may be adjusted to allow for different types of landings on the bags. If the athlete is learning a new big skill and needs a more cushioned landing, no problem. Pressure can be reduced to allow for that softer feel, resulting in a more comfortable landing on their back or rear.  Or, do you want to mimic more of a firm mat landing? This can be done as well by increasing the pressure enough for the athlete to land on their feet.

4. Aesthetics – I will keep this one short and simple. Airbags can look amazing and provide a very clean look in your facility. Your imagination is the driver of the look of the top sheet. Any design or look you want can be done on this top sheet – logos/branding, motivational words, shapes, colors, pictures, etc.

5. Throughput – This is another area where the AirBag is amazing. We all know how long it can take to get out of a foam block pit. This can sometimes take more than a minute, while other kids are standing in line waiting for their turn. The average time to exit the pit from an airbag is about 7 – 10 secs. Now you are increasing training productivity by almost 10 fold!

6. Noise – This one seems to be the deal killer for a number of folks in gymnastics facilities. Coaches fear the noise can be distracting. Again, engineers have listened to the gripes and have come up with the low noise air blower. The decibel level can be compared to that of a low level conversation. 

7. Cost – This is a BIG question for most people considering an AirBag over foam block. What is this thing going to cost me? Quite simply, the initial cost of the complete airbag system (with all bells and whistles) is going to cost you more than foam block. However, if you are more interested in the cost over time, then the airbag will become the obvious choice. Long term cost analysis shows that most gym owners will recover that additional cost in about a year and half when purchasing an airbag over foam block. Think about it – very little maintenance (both staff time and actual cost), and nothing to replace for a very long time (if ever). 

How about cost to run the Blower? Quite low…about $2 per day.

Based on all of the information above, the future is looking pretty bright for AirBags making their way in to gymnastics facilities. I think education on the product is key for each owner considering making the switch. We are here to answer any questions about them and can also provide a quick estimate for changing out your existing pits if needed. 

Brad Thornton

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Ninja Meets Technology

Where is Ninja headed? Well, at agNinja, we have a pretty good idea where it CAN go and we are making sure we are in the drivers seat to steer it in that direction. The great thing about the sport of Ninja is that it can be done SO many different ways. Courses can be rearranged by moving obstacles around or swapping old obstacles for new obstacles.  The way in which you progress through a Ninja course can be altered which can completely change the difficulty level. We want to throw one more variable in the mix – technology!

Imagine “gamifying” Ninja in a totally unique way through the use of some simple, but clever technology. What this does is it creates a variety of additional challenges for your athletes and provides a new way for them to either compete against each other or themselves. Sounds rather appealing doesn’t it? Well let’s get down to it and take a look at the future!

Here are just a few of the new and exciting things you can expect from us

Warped Walls – Imagine having a 12 foot warped wall in your facility that can only be conquered by around 10 percent of those who attempt it. Of course, warped walls can be done a number of ways to allow for intermediate ledges that younger kids can grab. We want to spice that up a bit. Imagine some interactive technology that incorporated sensors and/or buttons on the wall that tracked the the height they reached. Now throw is some basic coding to turn this in to a game. All of a sudden you have a fun challenge where two teams of kids are going head to head on warped walls and points are being tracked based on certain factors. All of this would be displayed on a few flat screens and you have yourself a completely new attraction. 

Ninja Courses – Consider a similar concept with the obstacles and framing. What if we create a new set of challenges for the athlete as they progress through the course? Imagine pods being strategically placed throughout the course that the athlete interacts with. Instead of simply navigating an obstacle, they must also decide if they want to collect points and go for a pod that is in a tricky spot. These pods can be utilized to create a multitude of other games that really make for an endless combinations of fun.

Climbing – This too can be enhanced for a more exciting user experience. Again, it comes down to censored pods. You can give your climbers something to shoot for by incorporating these pods in to your existing climbing wall. It’s fairly simple and the excitement it builds those using it is priceless. Just like the warped walls and courses, a number of games can be created that can be utilized during weekly classes and especially during birthday parties.

For climbing, you can go one step further and do an entirely interactive climbing wall. such as the one pictured below


Pretty awesome stuff! Some of these things mentioned above are not something we have to wait for. They are already here and we can make it happen for you. If you are looking to retrofit something you already have or you want to create something completely new, we can help you determine what might be the best direction for you.

Call us or email Brad@InteractiveSportsZone.com

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After School Athletic Center Includes Ninja

We’ve taken on many different types of design projects over the years so it’s always fun when something new comes along. Jams Athletics presented something a little different than what we are accustomed to. Jams is an after school program which comes with a laundry list of procedures and regulations related to their operation to which they must adhere. These procedures must be considered when working the gym design and flow of the kids through the facility. It can be tricky and safety is paramount with these type operations. From the time a child arrives to the time he or she leaves, they follow a fairly regimented schedule. Understanding where the kids need to be throughout the day played a big roll in how the facility was laid out. It was quite interesting to learn more about after school programs and their operations.

This is Jams Athletics second facility and it is substantially larger than the first. They are taking advantage of this new space by implementing some new activities such as Ninja and a soft play area. Like many business owners, they recognize that Ninja is a fun way for kids to exercise. We added in a 30ft frame section with hanging obstacles, ground obstacles along with a 10ft warped wall. It should be awesome! In addition to the new programs, they will also have full court basketball, dance and cheer. It’s really going to be a great experience for the kids.

This is a testament to the sport of Ninja and the benefits it brings to a variety of businesses. I love seeing it’s popularity continue to grow as it makes its way in to fitness facilities, schools, organized leagues and even residential back yards. Stay tuned for completed facility photos, but in the meantime, here is a video of the design

Brad Thornton

Co-Founder and Lead Designer

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AG Ninja Goes to the Hamptons

After years of providing facility design concepts and installing large Ninja and Gymnastics setups for our clients, you think you have seen it all. This thought went out the window we met a new client who was looking to build an underground sports bunker for his kids. With my jaw on the floor, I listened as he described the space what he wanted it to include — a gymnastics area, basketball court, full climbing walls, turf field, hockey rink, golf simulator, workout area, yoga room, locker room and a full Ninja Course.

This was one of those projects you dream about doing – Design concept through installation – Amazing facility – sweet family. This video takes you on a virtual fly through of this amazing fun space. Enjoy!

Don’t forget, we work in residential spaces all the time! Even if it is simply coming up with a cool and fun concept in a single room of the basement, we are happy to chat with you about your project ideas. You’d be surprised how much you can do in a small space at home. For more info, email Brad@InteractiveSportsZone.com

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Dare to Be Different With Your Ninja Course

agNInja’s new steel warped walls allow for some really unique ways of incorporating them in to your Katana Frame Ninja Course. The great thing with our rigs is you don’t have to stick with the standard linear course way of thinking. We like to get creative with our designs and courses to make them fresh and fun but still functional. Ninja training has no limitations and we feel that you should explore all options with your Ninja course configurations.

The video below shows an example of something a little more unique in terms of a Ninja course. While it is setup to function more like a variety of stations, it is easy to create a number of different ways of progressing through everything in a timed course like fashion. Like a lot of our courses this example also demonstrates how easy it is to create something with a wow factor in a small amount of space. This ninja rig only requires about 650 Square feet. In that space you get 2 warped walls, a double salmon ladder, 4 possible lanes of obstacles and an infinity revolver station.

When you work with us for a design on a Ninja space, it’s important to remember that it is our job to think outside the box for you! We can get as creative as you like and put something together that you may not see anywhere else. Really, that is a big part of a successful operation – is it appealing to your clients? Do they walk in the door and immediately want to try whatever it is you have displayed for them. Don’t hold back! Be bold! Dare to be different…

Brad Thornton

Brad@InteractiveSportsZone.com

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AG Ninja Goes to Fargo, ND

The AG Ninja team had the opportunity to work on a brand new Ninja facility in Fargo, ND, starting with the custom design all the way to the installation. This facility is no joke!

Click on the facebook link below to view photos from the installation.

 

Check out video footage of this awesome new space. You’ll be ready for some obstacle training after you watch!

 

 

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AG Ninja Goes to Lancaster, CA

The AG Ninja team had a blast working on this project in Lancaster, CA. From the custom design to the cool color-scheme, this facility is full of safe and challenging AG Ninja obstacles for all age groups.

Click on the link below to view photos of the design concept, installation and final product – who’s ready to tackle that wall?

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AG Ninja Goes to Wake Forest, NC

Wake Forest, NC is now home to a new state of the art Ninja facility, which boasts many exciting obstacles for kids of all ages. The AG Ninja team custom designed this space to allow for ninja training, parties and camps. Our team was involved every step of the way from the design process to the installation.

Click on the facebook link below to view photos from our installation

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AG Ninja Goes to Fort Worth, TX

The AG Team completed another fun project in Fort Worth, Texas in April, 2018. This facility is able to offer parties and classes for multiple ages with their dynamic AG Ninja equipment.

Click the facebook link below to view the photos of AG Ninja’s work at this awesome new ninja facility.

 

Check out the video below to see how our team’s process works – from custom design to complete installation, watch as this Ninja facility takes shape!

 

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AG Ninja Goes to Boerne, TX

Wow! This project will excite every gym owner to see the potential any space can have. This facility packs a lot of punch as the owner wanted to really optimize the space and maximize the obstacles utilized for training and entertainment. The AG Ninja team custom designed this space with that goal in mind. Our team manufactured the AG Ninja equipment and provided installation to make this facility a ninja reality!

Click on the facebook link below to see photos of the installation and final look at the brand new facility.

 

 

Watch the video below to see a gym owner’s dream become a reality as we take you on a tour of the process of an AG Ninja creation from start to finish!