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Choosing the right kids' balance beam is dependent upon several factors. The two main things to consider are the budget and intended use of the balance beam, as well as the desired style, material, and color of the beam. Safety factors must also never be overlooked when purchasing children's equipment, for fun or otherwise. The child for whom the balance equipment is going to be purchased may also be involved in the selection process.
Those in the market for a kids' balance beam will soon realize that there are many available options. A good starting point in making a decision is the amount of money that is to be spent. People who are looking for more of a toy beam will have an easier time finding cheaper options. Balance beams for more gymnastics-minded children, on the other hand, will be pricier and it may be necessary to spend a higher amount of money on a more professional-grade item.
If a child takes gymnastics classes, he or she will usually have access to a professional-style kids' balance beam wherever they are instructed. In this case, a practice balance beam may be all that is necessary to have at home. These styles are usually close to the ground, raised only by a few inches on either side. Many of these practice beams even rest directly on the ground.
There are still many options and variations of the features available in ground-level balance beams. Some can fold for easy portability, while others may have a built-in mat for added protection. Of course, there are always plenty of color options, which is always a good choice to delegate to the child.
There is also a matter of the material from which a kids' balance beam is constructed. Many beams are made of wood, which will give the most professional feel. These can also be covered with a material such as suede for added comfort. The downside, of course, is that these are more difficult to transport since the beam can be heavy and will not fold, except possibly the legs.
Other beams are made of various kinds of lightweight foam, which also may be covered with plastic, vinyl, or suede so they are easier to move around. There is, however, a difference in the feel between a hard, professional beam and a lightweight foam beam. A foam kids' balance beam will still be good for practice, learning, or playing on. Many are even available that can be formed into different shapes, like curves or figure eights, with even more color options.
More experienced children may be ready for balance beams that are high off the ground. It is essential that the proper padding is beneath these beams, and that they can have adjustable heights. Being able to raise or lower a balance beam is a nice feature for gymnasts of varying ages, or who may be trying more and more dangerous stunts that require practice on a lower height. Of course, the most serious child gymnasts may require an actual professional balance beam, which will be the most expensive.
I can't imagine having a child who is serious about professional gymnastics, but if I did, I guess I'd have to get the necessary equipment. It's an expensive proposition.
I know I'd start with a balance beam that is lower to the ground. You have to think safety first, and with all the raised awareness about how much damage concussions can cause, I think that's just the smart thing to do until the child really learns how to handle herself on the beam.
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