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Trampoline park first of its kind in East Texas

By Ryan C. Perry rperry@news-journal.com
May 23, 2012 at 11 p.m.


It sounds like the blueprint of a child's dream: 10,000 square feet of trampolines, two 8-feet deep pits filled with 24,000 foam cubes, walls built to bounce off and a spring-loaded dodgeball court.

But the blueprint to the dream will become reality June 1 when Air U in Longview opens its doors to the public.

"I grew up dying to jump on this many trampolines," said Robert Murphy, operations manager at Air U. "Having that many foam cubes to jump into ... it's just crazy. Kids can bounce until they just can't bounce anymore."

"There's nothing like it in this area," Murphy said. "You can go roller skating or bowling, and those are great things, but you step in to a different world when you come in here."

According to Murphy, people can burn up to 1,000 calories in one hour on the trampolines.

"Kids really don't have a way these days to make losing weight fun," said Chris McNabb, one of the owners of Air U. "With all the things we have here, kids can have fun in a bunch of ways."

Backyard trampolines are a popular but often dangerous form of recreation. With the size of the park and the staff, McNabb said they have minimized any danger.

"I was a multiple national trampoline champion, and I was a former state director for USA Gymnastics trampoline tumbling," McNabb said. "Having such a background, I wanted to make it as safe as possible."

"The way kids get hurt is by falling off the trampoline or having multiple kids on a trampoline. Our rules are very specific. And every things is level, so kids won't fall off."

When compared to more traditional, low-key activities, McNabb said the odds stack up well for Air U.

"We looked at some statistics, and the injury rates at facilities like this one are actually less than bowling," McNabb said.

McNabb also said people will be given a flight-themed lesson on how to stay safe and what the rules are before they get on the trampolines.

Because Air U in connected to Gym University and Cheer University, a lot of the staff is already in place.

"We have the unique situation of having so many high-quality (gymnastics) coaches right next door," McNabb said.

Murphy also said they plan to have competitive sports at the facility.

"We're going to have a dodge ball league and dodge ball tournaments," Murphy said. "Hopefully, we'll send a team to the national championships next year."

McNabb said the park has been thoroughly inspected for safety, and since it is a unique business for insurance companies to cover, extra scrutiny was paid to the small details.

Even with a 20,000-square-foot park, the crew plans on limiting the amount of people jumping to 100 people per hour.

"We want to make sure all kids have their own surface and that we're as safe as possible," McNabb said.

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