PORTLAND, Maine — On Friday night, Maine’s newest trampoline park was jumping.
Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” blared through a converted warehouse space in an industrial park as scores of kids, and a few adults, bounced their way into the night.
Off to the side, their parents and grandparents looked on, amused. As their charges expended their energybetween flips and shouts of joy, they were getting more than air.
Get Air, a Utah-based trampoline park company, opened in Portland two weeks ago with side-by-side individual trampolines, vertical walls, a basketball court and dodgeball area for people who want more than the treadmill experience at the gym. This indoor sports complex, open for all ages, is a playful place to improve your health. Think well-equipped school gymnasium.
With childhood obesity rates in Maine soaring — according to the Centers for Disease Control and Protection, 17 percent of children between the ages of 2 and 5 are overweight and 14.3 percent are obese — it’s never too early to start moving.
“This is great exercise,” said Heidi Martin of Scarborough, who was watching her 8-year-old grandson play dodgeball in a closed-off trampoline court with 10 other kids. “These people are losing weight like crazy. You should see the sweat coming off of them.”
Since Get Air has been open, hundreds of people from 8 years old to 80 have slipped off their shoes and slipped on grippy socks to bounce, jump and sweat their way into shape. General manager Charlie Baker says an hour on a trampoline can shed 1,000 calories.
Jumping for health is recommended as an addition to a fitness routine by sites like Fitness Republic. By enhancing oxygen intake, jumping improves cardiovascular health, and helps with posture and balance.
“Jumping on a trampoline works your whole body. It’s good for toning and conditioning,” said Baker. Though Get Air looks like a modern romper room, like any exercise routine, “it takes some skill,” said Baker.
Instead of a membership, or walk-in fee, customers pay by the hour ($14 for the first hour, $8 for the second). Baker suggests first-timers take it easy and try one hour.
“Some people come in and want to do two hours. Then I see them sweating and breathing heavy after 20 minutes,” he said.
Since opening on Oct. 10, not far from Allagash Brewing Co., Get Air has been “crazy, crazy busy,” said Baker.
“People want to try new things. There is not a lot to do around here when it gets cold.”
A weather-proof place where people of all ages can get their ya-yas out can be the difference between cabin fever and a winter of content.
“There is nothing like this in Maine,” said Nina Griffin, a 37-year-old Portland mother, jumping in unison with her 8-year-old daughter Helena. “I’ve been in the Portland area my whole life and I’ve never seen anything like this.”
Though she was a tad disturbed by the waiver she had to sign. “Look around here, there could be major injuries. It’s a trampoline park. There could be collisions.”
So far, so good, says Baker, who is ever vigilant on the floor. Referees with whistles act as lifeguards here, stopping kids when they are too rambunctious or crowding a trampoline. Should someone overestimate their bounce, a thick padding around the trampoline provides a safe landing. The network of trampolines are level with the ground and every Get Air employee knows CPR. So parents can relax.
“Coming in here is like being a kid with your own kids,” said Griffin.
Is Get Air better than a pizza party? Or a night of video games?
“I’ll do anything to get him away from the computer,” said Martin, looking over at her grandson, airborne and grinning from ear to ear.
Get Air, 921 Riverside St., Portland. www.getairportland.com, 207-245-6443.