Trampoline center offers great
exercise with sky-high fun factor
By: Amy Bertrand
"CHESTERFIELD, Mo. - Some just bounce up and down. Others do zigzags across
the unstable surface, while others do drills designed to get their hearts
racing. Still others jump through hoops - quite literally.
At SkyZone Recreational Center, a trampoline facility that opened recently in
Chesterfield, Mo., participants are finding a new way to exercise.
"Cardiovascularly, this is the most phenomenal workout I've ever had," says
Marci Willenbrink, a fitness instructor at the West County YMCA and at the
Jewish Community Center. "I found this place accidentally, and I haven't been
able to stop talking about it since. It's different, and it's fun. It's like you
are a kid again, but you are working hard."
"It's the most dynamic workout in the world," says SkyZone CEO and founder Rick
Platt. "Anybody can do it, because it's no-impact," meaning it's easy on the
joints and bones.
Platt opened the first SkyZone in Las Vegas three years ago after buying a
patent for the concept. The facility there has taken off, and now he hopes to
open them nationwide. But he thought he'd start in St. Louis, where he and his
wife grew up and their two sons have attended college.
When you enter the facility, you can choose three courts (two more are being
built). The primary one is suspended above the main level and offers 6,000
square feet of jumping space. You have to strap on special shoes, which offer
ankle support and special soles for traction, before you can begin.
Some people go simply to jump around and have fun. Others take special aerobics
classes called SkyRobics, or to work out with a personal trainer. Still others
play organized games.
"We play games just like you'd play outside," Platt says. "It's just that we do
it on a 3-D surface."
The biggest benefit of this playing surface is the easy-on-joints, low-impact
aerobic training it offers.
Because rebound exercise, as it's called, is low-impact, "it doesn't pound the
vertebrae," says Jeff Wolls, an exercise physiologist by training and director
of recreational sports at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where thousands
of students take part in SkyZone games. "We have a tendency to enjoy the type of
exercise that is nonimpact. You don't think of it so much as hard work, so the
direct benefit is F-U-N, and it still gives you all the benefits of a tough
He says studies have shown that even a baby who can't walk yet can lie on a
trampoline-type surface and get his or her heart rate up when someone bounces
the surface up and down.