My children are bouncing off the walls and for once I don't mind. If they're going to run riot, this is the place for it.
We're at Jump, the latest family attraction to hit Hamilton and a great place to visit if you're here for a weekend. The indoor trampoline park caters to all ages, featuring wall-to-wall trampolines, soft landing surfaces and padded walls that invite all who enter to attempt daredevil stunts. Families love it, and mine is no exception; the kids have been goggle-eyed with delight since we walked in.
Even on this quiet Tuesday afternoon the place oozes fun and the kids' laughter bounces off the walls along with them.
Sandra and David Mu launched Jump in Auckland's East Tamaki after discovering the indoor trampoline park craze while travelling in the United States. The Hamilton branch, which opened last spring, is twice the size of the East Tamaki site. Highlights are a 6m foam pit area, a basketball hoop for extreme dunking and a trampoline dodgeball court.
Dodgeball is one of the most popular parts of the Jump experience, and little wonder; it's highly energetic, hilarious fun and great for family bonding. After a safety briefing, we're invited to watch the experts battle it out on the court before we jump in ourselves. They're a hard act to follow. I bounce clumsily on to the court and am barely into position before my husband starts hurling balls at me. Clearly an earlier argument still rankles. My aim's not good enough to return the favour. Instead I struggle to keep my balance as the kids bounce around us, laughing like loons and loving the opportunity to throw sneaky balls at our heads. Great family bonding indeed.
It's also hard work, and we're soon puffing. When you're having this much fun, you don't realise you're exercising as well. That, Sandra tells me, is a hidden benefit of this family attraction. Unsurprisingly, all the staff members are in pretty good shape.
Between dodgeball games we venture into other parts of the attraction, shooting hoops and racing each other up steep padded ramps. The kids win every time - the fearlessness of childhood has its advantages. This place is a kid's dream.
We throw ourselves into an area comprising three trampoline launch pads that catapult users into a 6m-wide, 2m-deep pit filled with foam cubes. Here you can practise all sorts of tricks with the security of a soft landing, with Jump management asking only that you don't dive in head first. The older kids need no encouragement and even our 2-year-old gingerly joins in once she realises she's missing the action. Somehow they all come out intact.
Back on the dodgeball court, the mostly male "bouncers" spring around us, keeping an eye on the toddlers. A job where you get to jump all day long is pretty perfect, one of them says. It keeps him fit, doesn't clash with his other commitments, and means he can help children learn co-ordination - something he really enjoys. I watch him gently encouraging my 4-year-old boy to shoot hoops and am impressed. He's a natural.
Our hour-long session flies by and I'm surprised when it's up. I'm surprised, too, how quickly my legs have adapted to Jump's springy surfaces. I step on to the concrete floor near the entrance and expect it to flex.
We're all a bit stiff the next day but it's worth it. The memories of the fun family experience will stay with us much longer than the soreness. Hopefully.
Need to know
Jump is at 138 Ellis St, Frankton, Hamilton. There are studios in East Tamaki and Mairangi Bay, too.
Sessions start on the hour every hour and people are encouraged to arrive early for a safety briefing. There are jump cross, cardio and fit classes for group exercise, 45 minutes at $15.
Open daily from 10am. Call 0800 586 794 to book.