Feb 21, 2017 12:10PM
Jump for fitness and fun: Trampoline park opens in Eldridge
By Chris Cashion
Helium Trampoline Park opened last fall in Eldridge at 400 S. 14th Ave., offering folks a chance to jump on a form of entertainment and fitness that's new to the Quad-Cities area.
Helium is made up of more than 100 interconnected trampolines of various sizes and shapes. Some of the trampolines are sloped or curved; some are long so jumpers may run along them — and possibly perform a few tumbling moves along the way — and others make up features such as a slam-dunk basketball area and a gladiator beam.
The park lends the opportunity for kids to be kids — and adults to pretend they are.
Helium offers a "tot time" for children who are walking through age 5; jump time for all ages; a once-a-month jump for those with special needs; and a fitness class dubbed AIRobics.
There also are token games, a cafe and a party room.
So far, the community has embraced Helium wholeheartedly, says Tammy Lorentz, the park's general manager.
"Eldridge has given us an incredibly warm welcome, and we've had a high level of repeat visitors already. I think there was a need for this kind of activity here," she says.
Lorentz knows a thing or two about a community's response to a trampoline park — she also manages Helium Trampoline & Climbing Park in New Berlin, Wis., which has been open since May 2013.
Lorentz says the Eldridge location employs about 120 people, and she feels the community appreciates the jobs.
Those who enjoy new types of fitness classes will appreciate the AIRobics class.
The park's website teases, "If fitness is fun, does it still count?" Company president Randy Seffren assures it does.
He likened the workout the class provides to that of the rebounding craze that was popular a few years ago, where fitness enthusiasts jumped on tiny trampolines.
The AIRobics class, though, allows for more options and bigger movements because you are on larger trampolines.
"Even the most fit person can be exhausted," Seffren says, "but you can work at your own pace."
I had to check it out for myself. The price is $10 for the hourlong class, and it's recommended that you purchase your time (to reserve your spot) and sign the waiver online ahead of time.
I donned the required Grip & Go socks and got ready to jump. (You may use the socks each time you jump, and the purchase price helps support Helium's donations to community not-for-profit organizations.)
My takeaway? AIRobics is a blast! My other takeaway? I am not 8 years old anymore; jumping on a trampoline is hard work!
After a brief warmup, we were led through a series of motions — jumping jacks, push-ups, jumping in the shape of a star, hopping on one foot — all things that didn't seem too tough. We were performing them on a trampoline, however, and that added a new level of difficulty and challenge to the core (and my balance) that I hadn't expected. My face got a workout too, as I found it nearly impossible not to smile.
Before I knew it, the hour was over — something I surely can't say for all fitness classes.
I definitely could feel my workout the next day — my calves, my core and my arms (how did THAT happen?) had a few things to say about the activities. I suppose that answered the question on the website for me — yes, fitness still counts when it's fun!
It also didn't hurt knowing you can burn up to 1,000 calories per hour in one of these classes, Seffren says.
These benefits aren't limited to the AIRobics class. "A sixth-grader who is jumping during open jump is getting these same benefits without thinking about it," Seffren says.
He adds that not only is jumping great cardio, it's also low impact, good for building strength and stability, and every time you brace yourself to land, you are strengthening your core.
Another benefit the park offers is the opportunity to strengthen families. Lorentz says although parents are welcome to come for free to watch their kids jump, children appreciate having their parents out there with them.
"Of course kids love to have their parents watch them, and that's great, but any time you can get the parents out there with them, the kids light up," she says.
Helium also offers sensory-friendly nights once per month. While the park is usually a jumble of noise, it has fewer distractions and is devoid of music on these nights for those with special needs and their families.
Seffren says it's heartwarming to see children who otherwise might be overwhelmed by the setting instead enjoy the experience. He says staffers typically clamor to work these nights because everyone enjoys them so much.
While the Eldridge location is relatively new, there already are plans for expansion. There are at least four or five more attractions slated for the park, including a climbing wall and 9-foot-tall inflatable "hamster-style" balls.
For more information, including pricing, a jump schedule, a safety video and a waiver, visit heliumparkqc.com.
Chris Cashion is a writer on staff with Radish.
Radish magazine is published by Small Newspaper Group and distributed by Moline Dispatch Publishing Co., L.L.C.
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