Case Studies

Tumbles at Portobello - soft-play and gymnastics


Continental Sports Ltd has recently completed the installation of a range of gymnastics equipment at the new Tumbles at Portobello facility for Edinburgh Leisure.

Edinburgh Leisure have recently transformed a little-used indoor bowls hall into one of the UK’s leading gymnastics training and soft-play facilities.  Tumbles is now the UK’s first bespoke gymnastics training centre with artistic gymnastics to performance level, trampolining to competition level, and a dedicated FreeG Freestyle Gymnastics ModuBlox area.

Continental worked closely with Edinburgh Leisure’s Gymnastics Development Officer, Karen McGrath, and Scottish Gymnastics to propose a layout taking account of the range of activities that Edinburgh Leisure wanted to offer along with the requirements for high performance artistic gymnastics from Scottish Gymnastics.


The design and installation process:

Stage 1 - initial brief

The facility already existed as an indoor bowls centre.  The carpet was removed and disposed of and the perimeter upstand was removed and the ditch filled in.  The existing concrete floor remained onto which the play-gym and podium were constructed prior to decoration and fitting out of the facility with the gymnastics equipment. The lighting was raised to ensure sufficient clear height for all activities. 

Portobello bowls centre before transformation

Stage 2 - initial design

The orginal layout proposal showed a larger FreeG area with one recessed trampoline and centrally located floor trampolines.

The layout was modified when it was confirmed that the podium could be made larger and that a second recessed trampoline was required. 

The podium size also needed to be increased which reduced the floor level area reducing the amount of apparatus in that area.

Original gymnastics centre layout proposal

Stage 3 - design improvements

The FreeG area was moved to the opposite corner away from the entrance and the floor trampolines were relocated to avoid a conflict with some ducting in the roof.

Continental worked closely with all stakeholders to ensure the optimum layout was agreed.  If you are planning a gymnastics centre we are happy to provide as many 2D and 3D layouts as are necessary until we get exactly what you are looking for

Final gymnastics centre layout proposal

Stage 4 - final design

After a number of iterations and changes to the design, Continental provided an agreed layout in early August with the requirement from Edinburgh Leisure that the centre had to be open for business on the 4th October.  We therefore had a maximum of eight weeks to manufacture bespoke equipment and install a complete gymnastics training centre! - the benefits of Continental's UK based manufacturing facility!

Final layout drawing of Tumbles at Portobello


Stage 5 - manufacture and installation

We did it! The finished facility (completed a week early!)

Tumbles at Portobello gymnastics training facility and playgym

Due to the site being on the coast and the resultant high water table, along with the short timescales, digging for dismount pits was not possible, so the dismount pit, vault, tumble track,  fast-track and recessed trampolines were located in the largest raised podium in the UK at 500m2.

The gymnastics equipment included:

  • A full size FIG approved artistic sprung floor
  • A beam area with four FIG approved beams and two low training beams
  • A bars area with two FIG approved uneven bars and a height adjustable high bar
  • A mens artistic area with FIG approved rings, parallel bars and pommel horse
  • A trampoline area with two competition trampolines and end decks
  • A FreeG area for Freestyle Gymnastics incorporating Continental’s revolutionary ModuBlox system with surrounding Tribond matting
  • Two fully foam filled dismount pits with FIG approved high bar, uneven bars, parallel bars, and two recessed trampolines to pit
  • An innovative open-ended U-shaped dismount pit
  • A fast-track and tumble track with dismount to landing area and pit
  • An FIG approved vault to a matted landing area and a TeamGym Tarpan vault and Dorado trampette for TeamGym with dismount to pit
  • Ancillary items included – a Just for Kids PVC floor cover, wall padding at the end of the podium landing area, Freestyle blocks and mats, coaching blocks and mats, wall bars, a set of Junior Gym rings, high bar, uneven bars and double rebounder

The images below show some of the interesting features at Tumbles at Portobello.  Please click any of the pictures for a larger image:


The 6m high play-gym area provides younger children with clear, enticing views of the excitment of the gymnastics going on all around.

The balcony viewing area provides views over the gym, podium and play-gym to the FreeG ModuBlox in the distance

The ModuBlox for FreeG complete with bars and Freestyle foam blocks provide Scotland's first bespoke Freestyle Gymnastics area - again, overlooked by the younger children in the play-gym who can appreciate the excitement of FreeG from an early age!

A run of ModuBlox is used to provide the podium edge alongside a section of the pit.  When the removable edge padding is lifted-off, this allows Freestylers to jump from the ModuBlox area, onto the blocks forming the pit edge and somersault into the foam pit.  Great fun!

The UK's largest gymnastics podium at 500m2 provides recessed fast-track, dismount pits, U-pit, tumble track and two vault runs.

The innovative open-ended U-shaped pit allows coaches to stand on the edges to support gymnasts as they go over the bar, but unlike a traditional U-pit, the gymnasts can follow through to dismount into the main pit if they choose.

Stage 6 - a delighted customer and a successful launch!

At the recent opening of Tumbles at Portobello, John Comiskey, Chief Executive of Edinburgh Leisure commented: "Tumbles has been developed by Edinburgh Leisure in direct response to unmet demand for family activities in this area and specifically in response to the surge in popularity of gymnastics across Edinburgh.

“There are over 200 children currently on waiting lists for Edinburgh Leisure gymnastics programmes,  demonstrating just how popular gymnastics is becoming. By creating the City's only purpose-built gymnastics and freestyle facility, we are confident that many more children will be inspired to become more active and take advantage of the facilities that Tumbles at Portobello has to offer.”

Tumbles at Portobello

The image above taken at the opening of Tumbles at Portobello shows (L to R) Jeff Ainsley, Director of House of Play, John Comiskey, Chief Executive of Edinburgh Leisure and Nick Booth, Managing Director of Continental Sports Ltd


If you are considering developing a new gymnastics training facility, or converting an existing building into a gymnastics centre then please contact Continental to see how we can help you.

Edinburgh Leisure’s ground-breaking idea of having a significant soft-play (play-gym) area within the same hall as the gymnastics is extremely exciting, with the soft-play offering many benefits:

  • Incorporates activities with a gymnastics theme to encourage an interest in the sport
  • Acts as a feeder for large numbers of younger children into the gymnastics programme
  • Provides something to keep younger children active and entertained while older siblings are in gymnastics classes

Soft play / play-gym in a gymnastics centre

The above image shows a render of the actual playgym 

  • Underpins the revenue stream for the facility to help fund performance gymnastics
  • Along with the adjacent Café, helps create a family-friendly destination for parents and children to use all the facilities.

We strongly feel that soft-play / play-gym works extremely well in a gymnastics training centre, and will help to support the commercial success of your facility.  The Tumbles soft-play area was supplied and installed by theUK’s leading manufacturer of soft-play facilities and Continental’s supplier of choice - House of Play.  Continental can provide a one-stop-shop for the design of your facility incorporating a soft-play area from House of Play.

Our Address

Hill Top Road,
West Yorkshire,

Telephone: 01484 542051

Fax: 01484 539148