by Renee Frigault
Partner, kiddo and I met up with another family last weekend to spend the afternoon at a trampoline park. Backyard trampolines were common where I grew up, and I went on to train and teach with my university trampoline club in the 1990s. I even certified with Gymnastics Canada as a trampoline instructor, but it has been a very long while since I’ve bounced regularly. But backyard trampolining has grown a lot recently, with kids learning tricks via social media — and the indoor parks are an expanding concept, with most North American cities seeming to have at least one.
I tried my first trampoline park about 6 years ago. Every time I go, it seems like most all of the grown-ups are on the benches. Thought I’d share some information on trampoline basics for any adults looking to join in the fun!
The type of trampoline will affect how high you can bounce:
Almost all big trampoline parks and backyard trampolines use a tightly woven jumping mat surface. These mats have a smooth durable surface that also has a side effect of limiting bounce in comparison to the ones seen at the Olympics. Competitive trampolines have a mesh bed that lets air pass through the mat to help maximize force transfer to the springs. They are also rougher on your skin. Smooth beds ‘steal’ some of the force transfer to push the air under the bed out of the way. Mesh beds just let the air pass right through. It is physically harder to jump high on a non-mesh trampoline. The smaller mat sizes at trampoline parks also act to limit potential jump height which is good to know for anyone worried about bouncing too high or those looking for really big air.
Whenever possible, always try to land with both feet on the same surface. One foot jumping or landing with one foot on the trampoline mat and the other on the frame will affect your stability and increase the likelihood of twisting an ankle or knee. I have an old knee injury and avoid the dodgeball courts for this exact reason.
I’ve learned to always wear something absorbent in my undies on bounce days. A little pee leakage is pretty common for adults with female bladder arrangements. A shorter urethra that points more or less straight down combined with a larger body kind of puts the physics against us.
Anything comfortable that won’t flop around as you move around is fine. I like leggings, sports bra, and a long sleeve fitted t-shirt that tucks in. Long sleeves to protect my forearms from being irritated by the trampoline mat and tucked to avoid belly flashing. Long hair tied back unless I feel like spending the next few days working tangles out. My own preference is bare feet for a more secure landing, but most public trampoline parks require wearing socks with rubber treads on the bottom for hygiene. If you don’t own a pair, they will happily sell you some.
Bring a water bottle and remember to take breaks. Trampoline can be a great cardio and core workout, along with improving overall body coordination. I even read somewhere that rebounding is excellent for your lymph system… can’t say I’ve ever given much thought to the state of my lymph but, sure why not.
Finally, don’t forget that trampoline is usually loved by kids because it is simply fun. Fancy tricks are completely optional. Just bouncing up and down always puts a smile on my face.
How about you – does the idea of bouncing up and down appeal to you?
– Renee is a professional engineer and recreational aerialist. She works and trains in Toronto, ON.