Pittsburgh's first indoor trampoline park jumps into high-energy fun

| Monday, May 6, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Young brothers Vicente Anchondo and Brett Chufe strap on their jumping shoes, and eagerly dart over to the trampoline court.

“Jump, jump, jump, jump!” Vicente, 8, tells his mom, Lindsy Chufe, before stepping onto the bouncy floor at the new Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park in Leetsdale.

Vicente and Brett, 4, hop from trampoline square to trampoline square like rabbits — jump, fall down, roll around and laugh.

The boys previewed the new park, which will open May 8 with wall-to-wall, connecting trampolines for people of all ages to enjoy.

Although jumping up and down provides a fun head rush, using a trampoline gives the jumper a great aerobic workout, too, says Joel Karg, managing partner of the new business.

“I call it exercise in disguise,” says Karg, who is based in the Columbus area, but staying in Upper St. Clair while he gets the new business rolling. “You're having a ball, and you're laughing and you're smiling. ... It's a very high-energy place.

“It's ... very active,” he says. “It really gets your heart rate going quickly.”

After an hour of strenuous jumping, Karg says, you may have burned some 1,000 calories — but you've had so much fun, you don't notice.

Sky Zone offers five courts — including a dodgeball and basketball court and a Foam Zone, filled with foam blocks you can jump into — with a total of 34, 9-foot by 9-foot jumping squares that can hold as much as 400 pounds. Only one jumper is allowed per square, though friends and family can get squares near or next to each other.

Before guests begin jumping, Sky Zone staff members coach them on the safety rules, including: You must empty your pockets, and get rid of gum or candy. Flips are allowed, but only single flips, and no more than two at a time. Foam padding separates each square.

Leetsdale Industrial Park, with its giant warehouses, offers a good location for Sky Zone, which has a 40-foot-high ceiling, Karg says. But, with its northwest location, near the edge of Allegheny and Beaver counties, this location will be the first of a planned three that will bring Sky Zone closer to people throughout greater Pittsburgh, he says. Future locations could include the East Hills and the South Hills, he says. The second local Sky Zone should open within nine to 12 months, and the third should open by the end of 2014.

“We're very proud of what we've brought here,” Karg says. “It's a great place for people to come and families to come, too.”

It's a physical form of entertainment.

“It's not like going to a movie and sitting and being passive watching a movie,” he says.“If you come in on any given day, you see folks of all shapes, sizes and ages out there.”

Trampoline businesses, mostly outdoors, were much more common in the '60s, Karg says. They died out at least partially because of safety concerns, like people falling off the trampolines or the trampolines tearing. But at Sky Zone, this won't happen because of the padding and walling, safety netting under the trampolines, and a rigorous inspection and maintenance program, he says.

The Sky Zone company began in 2004, and has franchises in 18 states and Canada. The business has grown exponentially as people discover the fun of safe trampoline jumping, Karg says. Sky Zone had seven locations in 2011 — and 37 as of last month.

Lindsy Chufe, 24, of New Brighton, says she is glad her sons got to break in the trampolines, an opportunity she got from a Facebook contest.

Jumping on a trampoline gives them fun fitness, Chufe says.

“It means a lot,” she says. “They're excited.”

Kellie B. Gormly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at kgormly@tribweb.com or 412-320-7824.

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