Spring Singapore

Bounce your way to fitness at Amped Trampoline Park, touted as the first of its kind in Singapore and South-east Asia.

Opened three weeks ago, the indoor park features almost 50 trampolines, which blanket the floors and line the walls in a converted Tanjong Katong school gym.

The trampolines are connected by bright blue padding, which shield the trampolines' frames and springs. Visitors can bounce off the walls and jump their way over 460 sq m of the park, which is located on the second floor, above a Peranakan Village Food Centre and Beer Garden.

Trampolines have been sold in Singapore for decades, but this is the first time members of the public, aged two and above, can pay to jump en masse on so many trampolines.

The park is the passion project and creative outlet for Canadian Shad Johns, 41, and Singaporean Jason Ong, 37, both managers at a technology company here. And it is already shaping up to be a viable business, with sessions rapidly filling up solely through word of mouth.

Last Saturday, nine of the park's 12 hour-long slots were fully booked, primarily by families and teens. Nine of its 10 slots for the next day, Sunday, were fully booked too.

"We're flat out," says Mr Johns, on how busy the park has been. "We have gotten such a great response."

Talks are under way to open more outlets on Singapore mainland and Sentosa in the next couple of years, he adds.

"We saw a hole in the market and we went for it. You have skate parks, you have wakeboarding, but what do you do when it rains or if it gets too hot?" says Mr Johns, who began trampolining as a child in his backyard in Canada.

A basic, 1.2m personal trampoline costs about $200. Larger models of 3m or more, which allow for more diversity of movement, cost anything from $1,200 to $3,000, excluding delivery and installation, says Mr Ray Dougall, managing director of Trampolines Asia, which has sold trampolines in Singapore for more than a decade.

Mr Johns and Mr Ong bounced the idea for the park around during lunch and bike riding sessions, before deciding last year to go into the venture. The pair decline to say how much they had spent on the project, but say it is a six-figure sum.

Both men still work full time. Apart from Mr Ong's brother, who helps out part-time, the park has no other employees. It is currently open only in the evenings on weekdays and all day on weekends.

Sessions cost $9 to $15 an hour, depending on the time of day. Only 25 people are allowed on the trampoline floor for each session.

Ms Ho Jia Yi, 20, learnt about the park from Instagram. Her friend had posted pictures of it on the photosharing app, and Ms Ho thought it looked like fun.

On Wednesday, she was gleefully trying to execute flips at the trampoline park with a friend.

"It's not my first time jumping on a trampoline, but it's my first time trying to do flips," she says.

"Jumping is actually a good workout. I'm so sweaty!"

Trampolines are a fun way to burn calories, agrees gymnastics instructor Alan Zheng. Zheng, 27, is developing a trampoline-based exercise programme at the trampoline park.

Slated to start later this month, the gymnasticsbased programme will incorporate aspects of obstacle-based training parkour, cheerleading and martial arts, he says.

Jumping on a trampoline "is a very good cardio exercise", he adds. "It takes a certain strength and body control to absorb the power, to bounce and move your body into different positions, like a split or a flip."

In 1980, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) published a research paper in the Journal of Applied Physiology which looked at the effects of trampolining on eight men between 19 and 26 years old. The research suggested that jumping on a trampoline was more effective than walking as a non-traumatic exercise to help recondition astronauts.

Since then, trampoline companies have used that study to tout claims such as how trampolining delivers the same health benefits as 30 minutes of running.

Dr Darren Leong, resident physician at Changi Sports Medicine Centre, cautions against taking these health claims at face value.

While jumping on the trampoline will undoubtedly boost one's heart rate and can be an effective way to exercise, he says, "whether we can extrapolate this research data, from a study done more than 30 years ago, into a broad statement that applies to all age groups remains to be seen".

In recent years, concerns about the safety of trampoline parks have arisen in countries such as the United States, Britain and New Zealand. Last November, San Antonio news website KENS5.com reported that an overweight man fell on a 12-year-old gymnast at a trampoline park and left her with a broken leg.

According to Dr Leong, ankle sprains are the most common injuries which occur on trampolines.

Injuries can also occur to the upper extremities, head and neck, when falling off the trampoline, though these injuries are not as common, he notes.

Safety is a primary concern, says Amped Trampoline Park's owners.

As there is "no risk of people falling off the trampolines, our primary concern is collision", says Mr Johns.

To that end, the park has its 25-people-each- session rule, even though it can accommodate more than 40 people at a time.

"We've noticed that people naturally gravitate towards using one trampoline per person. Keeping the number of bouncers low prevents them from getting in one another's way," Mr Johns adds.

There are also designated hours for age groups. Mondays from 3 to 8pm are only for those aged two to 11 years, while Fridays from 7 to 11pm are reserved for those above 12, for example (timings subject to change).

"Our biggest worry is a bigger person running into a child, which is why adults must be with their small children at all times," says Mr Johns, adding that they have not had any accidents or injuries so far.

All trampoliners must sign a waiver form which releases the park from any responsibility should injuries occur. They must also wear socks - non-slip socks can be purchased at the park reception for $3 a pair.

Special interest groups - of gymnasts, wakeboarders and parkour athletes - often turn up on week nights at the park, which has a 4m-wide, 1.2m-deep foam pit and two padded walls.

"It is a good way to train our posture and our flips," says student Lim Li Ting, 21, who is the president of the Nanyang Technological University's wakeboarding club. "If you fall wrongly in the pit, you do not get aches or sprains. It is better than trying flips on the water. When the boat is moving fast, it is painful to fall."

Nascent wakeboarder Anthony Wee, 20, also visits the park to practise his wakeboarding moves.

Says the national serviceman: "It's great because you can do all the flips and jumps without worrying about getting hurt. "Plus, every kid likes to jump around."

vlydia@sph.com.sg


Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.

Purchase this article for republication.

SERVICES