[attach]6771[/attach]Caroline Irving knew her future entailed opening an indoor trampoline park after a trip to Boston.
“My sister in law opened the first franchise Sky Zone in Boston and she’d been talking about it for years before she did it and I kept thinking what on earth are you talking about, an indoor trampoline park?” she says. “I flew down to Boston because I was so intrigued by the idea and saw hers in operation and just knew immediately it would be a huge success here.”
Bringing the concept to Canada, Irving opened her first Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park in Mississauga in 2011 and just launched a second site in Leaside next to the Amsterdam Brewery on Esandar Drive off Laird Drive this month.
“Almost from the beginning people asked to have one in Toronto because Mississauga is far away and it was really clear that the demand was there,” the Beach resident says. “I was quite keen to have something that was a bit closer to home that all my friends, family and neighbours could enjoy without making the trek to Mississauga.”
In addition to a large court of connecting trampolines called the open jump, the facility has 3-D dodge ball courts, with trampolines for both floors and walls, a foam pit where people can bounce off a trampoline into a sea of foam and, new to this location, is the Sky Slam.
“It’s basically two trampoline laneways that lead up to a basketball net so one that is at a lower level for kids and the other one is sort of at an NBA level and you can run and bounce your way down the track and then slam dunk the basketball,” she says. “It’s like everybody’s dream, people love it.”
They also offer fitness classes on trampolines called SkyRobics, which Irving says can burn up to 1,000 calories an hour, host birthday parties and have special sessions for different age groups like toddlers and Saturday nights for teens. It will also be open throughout March Break.
“In this technological world we live in, we have computer this and screen that and video games — to me it was just a great opportunity to offer something to families that meant getting off the couch and getting some exercise,” says Irving, a former TV producer and mother of five. “Kids aren’t even realizing how much exercise they’re getting. They’re sweating their faces off but they’re having a great time so it’s fun and it’s active and as a mom myself this is something that I really believe in.”
As well as being able to offer a healthy alternative to sitting on the couch, she counts as a highlight the ability to hire people, which includes 70 part time staff, from the local community.
“For many of them, it’s their first job and that for me is a real thrill to watch these kids learn good work habits and skills that they can apply later in life and start making some money and take on the responsibility of helping to run this business for me,” she says. “It makes me feel really great every time I walk in there and I see all these eager little faces because it’s a really cool place to work.”
She hopes the new venture will turn into a hub where people from the community will want to hang out and hopes guests leave with a sense that they did something fun and good for them with their family and friends.
“People love jumping on trampolines,” she says. “Everybody does, parents, people come in saying I feel like a kid again.”