Thanks to a bounce in their popularity, indoor trampoline parks are taking an increasing share of Metro Detroit real estate and customers’ leisure time.
One company, Sky Zone, has opened a trampoline park in the Detroit area and another in the Grand Rapids area, and plans to open four more in Michigan. And Troy-based AirTime Trampoline & Game Park is opening three more locations — in Shelby Township, Novi and Ann Arbor.
Interest in indoor trampoline courts has grown steadily. What started with a few West Coast locations about six years ago grew to about 45 in 2011. Today, there are an estimated 160 trampoline parks internationally. Chains include Jumpstreet, Hang Time, Off the Wall and Great Jump Sports.
The International Association of Trampoline Parks, a Hershey, Pa.-based trade group, estimates that as many as 50 more parks will open by the end of this year. Its members are holding their first conference this month in Arizona, examining topics such as legislation issues and business development.
The growth has come with some scrutiny.
Just this week, the Michigan Senate voted to put in place rules for indoor trampoline parks, a step toward the rules becoming state law.
Sponsored by state Sen. Dave Hildenbrand, R-Lowell, the legislation sets safety standards for operators and jumpers.
Operators would be required to post rules in a highly visible place and maintain trampoline courts to national safety standards. Jumpers would have to maintain reasonable control of their bodies, not land on their heads or necks, and avoid contact with others.
Park owners largely support the pending legislation, which now goes to the Michigan House.
“We want all of our guests to be safe and have gone to great lengths in the design and construction of the park and in our training and operations to promote safety,” said Pam Wannemacher, owner of AirTime Trampoline & Game Park in Troy, a 31,000-square-foot park that opened a year ago.
“We welcome legislation to keep Michigan trampoline park guests safe and will continually strive to ensure guest safety through our superior facilities, training and operations.”
Groups including the ASTM International (formerly known as the American Society for Testing and Materials), which helps businesses develop consensus standards, have drafted suggestions on the design of trampoline courts.
Park owners push laws
The proposed Michigan legislation came about when park owners including Colleen Fitzgerald went to Hildenbrand and suggested further regulations were needed in their fledgling industry. Fitzgerald runs the Canton Sky Zone franchise, an all-trampoline walled playing court that opened in 2012.
Sky Zone offers open jump times, a Foam Zone, SkyRobics fitness classes, 3-D Dodgeball and SkySlam basketball dunk court.
Everyone from 4-year-old kids celebrating birthdays to 40-year-old sports fans on corporate outings have worked out while having fun, Fitzgerald said.
“As a park owner, I want to see every other owner adopt and live by these standards. They’re good, common-sense standards that still let everybody have fun but keep them from doing the things that are known to cause injury,” said Fitzgerald, who decided to open her franchise after visiting a trampoline court in Ohio.
Hildenbrand visited a facility in his district, and the owner testified before the Senate Economic Development Committee hearing this month. While it was clear that trampoline court participants were having a blast, Hildenbrand says fun must be balanced with common-sense safety.
“This is a new type of recreational activity, and there are no precedents for trampoline courts. So we wanted an understanding between these businesses and their customers that there are inherent dangers,” Hildenbrand said.
Park limits sessions
Theresa Wainwright, co-owner of Paradise Park in Novi, says anyone thinking of using a trampoline for fitness or recreation should ask lots of questions about the equipment. Paradise Park, for example, has an outdoor trampoline system with six arenas, and jumpers are limited to eight minutes per session as opposed to the one-hour bookings at indoor courts.
Wainwright’s Italian-designed trampolines weigh about 3,000 pounds. They are insured, inspected daily and regularly maintained.
That includes replacing the springs once or twice a year, the jump field every year to two years and the netting every two years.
Wainwright, a member of the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, said these safety checks are rigorous, but necessary to ensure everyone’s protection.
“(These parks) need to be run by people who really care,” Wainwright said.
Karen Dybis is a Metro Detroit freelance writer.
Associated Press contributed.