Growing up in rural North Mississippi, my parents bought their house in the late 1970s as one of only two on an isolated road. Far from the suburbs, my brothers and I were routinely turned loose into the “neighborhood” to seek our own entertainment. The expansive acres brought woods to explore, trees to climb and eventually, a handful of playmates as more houses cropped up through the years. The crowning moment of our childhood came, however, on the day my parents decided (against what I now know was probably better judgment and definitely not in favor of their home insurance premiums) to bless my siblings and me with our very own full-size trampoline. Unlike contemporary trampolines that come equipped with fully encompassing safety nets and coil covers, the idea of trampoline safety in the early 90s involved strategic placement at least six feet from the nearest fence or low- hanging tree limb and of course, wearing socks.
While safety measures have dramatically increased in consequent years, socks are apparently still mandatory trampolining attire I discovered when I strode into the nearly deserted Updown Trampoline Park early one Saturday morning. In mere hours, children would litter the trampoline floor, but for now, the park belonged to those daring enough to defy the laws of gravity (and their Friday evening mistakes) in the name of fitness.
After donning my socks (special ones equipped with extra tacky sole grips), the instructor this morning, Apryle, led us up the ramp to begin our warm up. Five seconds after stepping onto my own trampoline square, the bathroom break I had taken minutes early was swiftly forgotten. After another quick zip to the ladies, it was a forgone conclusion that my bladder would just have to adjust to its newfound state of motion. Springing into jumping jacks, knee tucks, and pikes, a few minutes and a vicious sweat into the warm up, I was remembering the joy of jumping from my childhood – and then the sprints began.
Moving from the sprawling floor of individual trampolines, we utilized the dodgeball court and experienced the longest two minutes in the history of man as we sprinted from wall to wall. A quick change of pace as we dropped to our hands and knees and completed a series of plank jacks followed by a few minutes of wall sits (which while they did allow my heart rate to return to a manageable level, they did so only in exchange for turning my quads to melting lava). Moving around the park floor in a high-intensity interval workout, we utilized all the stations (read torture devices) – a trampoline-footed basketball court, where dunking is absolutely allowed (but don’t try to hang on the rim); a balance beam runs across a pit of foam blocks eager to coat the canvas of my sweaty skin with a masterpiece of debris should I misstep; and my favorite, a large inflatable bag I was invited to catapult my body onto via the trampoline launchpad at its base and then crawl across to escape. A solid session of ab work rounded out the class, which ended in a much-needed stretching session as I readjusted to gravity on solid land.
On subsequent Saturdays, the workouts changed in their format, but the intensity remained the same. On one memorable visit, we ventured into the back room to discover yet another foam pit, but this one complete with a trapeze entry. Better yet, a miniature (yet equally difficult) version of a Ninja Warrior Obstacle course occupied most of the space. I’m proud to say I was able to, with much effort, complete said course, though only through use of my legs when my upperbody strength failed me. #blessed
If your idea of Saturday morning doesn’t include complete exhaustion before breakfast, Updown Trampoline offers less-intense freestyle jumping throughout the week, with times for everyone from toddlers to college students. Just don’t forget your socks!
When Whitney Miracle isn’t sacrificing her Saturday mornings to defy gravity, she enjoys adding to her font collection as Creative Manager and Senior Designer at Signature magazine.