The History of the Gymnastics Air Track

The history of gymnastics is a rich tapestry woven with incredible feats of strength, agility, and grace. From the ancient Greek athletes who competed in the first recorded gymnastics competitions to the modern-day gymnasts who dazzle us with their seemingly superhuman abilities, the sport has come a long way. In this article, we look at something the ancient Greeks could never have imagined – the gymnastics air track!

The Gymnastics Air track is one of the sport’s youngest pieces of equipment having only been invented around 2004.

inflatable airtrack

Table of Contents

The invention of the Gymnastics Air track

The gymnastics air track, an inflatable piece of equipment used for training and practice, has become a staple in the gymnastics world. But who invented it and when did it first make an appearance?

The credit for inventing the gymnastics air track goes to a Dutch entrepreneur Geert Koenen. By the early 2000s, Koenen already had a number of years of experience in designing and manufacturing inflatable products with mixed success.

Developments in fabrics and materials coincided with an idea to produce an inflatable suitable for gymnastics and after some experimentation around 2004, the original Air tracks were born.

Although Bouncy Castles had been around for decades before, the idea to make a long bouncy castle suitable for tumbling skills was groundbreaking!

The emergence of Air Track Factory

Koenen’s invention was a game-changer for the sport of gymnastics. It allowed athletes to train in a safe and controlled environment, reducing the risk of injury.

To meet the growing demand for gymnastics airtracks, Koenen founded Air Track Factory in 2005. The company quickly became the go-to source for high-quality, inflatable gymnastics equipment, serving athletes at all levels, from beginners to world-class competitors.

And, with the rise of the internet, it wasn’t long before Air Track Factory gained worldwide popularity.

As a coach, I can remember our gym getting its first Air Track around 2006 and the impact on training methods was amazing. Gymnasts were able to gain confidence quickly and that helped them progress new skills at a rate we had never seen before.

Impact of Social Media

One person who helped to popularize the gymnastics airtrack is a British elite Tumbler turned stunt performer and free-runner, Damien Walters. Walters began using the air track in his training and incorporated it into his performances, showcasing the equipment’s versatility and durability on social media platforms like YouTube and Instagram.

Through his videos, Walters introduced the air track to a wider audience, including non-gymnasts who were drawn to the equipment’s potential for acrobatics and tricking. This helped to spur the growth of the airtrack market, with many companies offering cheaper alternatives to Air Track Factory’s premium products.

Without the internet and social media, the growth of air tracks would have been much slower. It has also provided inspiration for gymnasts to train at home.

I can clearly remember times before social media (I feel old) and gymnasts training at home wasn’t really as common as there was no real ‘home use’ equipment market.

Social Media has certainly helped create a huge market, not just with air tracks for home use, but bars, beams, mats and lots more.

Evolution of New Inflatable Air Products

As the popularity of the gymnastics air track grew, so did the demand for other inflatable equipment. Companies began offering products such as air barrels, air rolls, and air cushions, all designed to provide a safe and controlled training environment for gymnasts.

Many newer brands on the market offer cheaper alternatives to Air Track Factory however it still remains the number 1 brand in inflatable gymnastics equipment.

The fact that these products are great for home use, as well as professional gyms, has helped develop a multi-million dollar industry in just a few years.

These new products were designed to complement the gymnastics air track, offering additional training options and helping gymnasts to develop new skills. Today, the use of inflatable equipment in gymnastics training is commonplace, and many gymnastics facilities incorporate these products into their programs.

From a coach’s perspective, many of these products have helped reduce the amount of physical spotting we do as the products are relatively safe.

It allows coaches to take a step back and observe a gymnast attempting a new skill and give valuable feedback they wouldn’t have seen if they were concentrating on spotting a gymnast.

And let’s not forget the excitement that airtracks create for the gymnasts!

If you’re thinking of buying an air track, check out my review of the best 6 airtracks for home use here.

Conclusion

The invention of the gymnastics air track by Geert Koenen in 2004 revolutionized the sport of gymnastics. It provided a safe and effective training tool that reduced the risk of injury and allowed athletes to push the boundaries of their abilities.

The creation of AirTrack Factory and the popularity of social media helped to spread the use of the airtrack to a wider audience, and the subsequent development of new inflatable equipment has expanded the possibilities for gymnastics training even further. As the sport continues to evolve, it’s clear that the gymnastics air track will remain a vital piece of equipment for gymnasts at all levels.