By Sherry Robinson
Times Staff Writer
it's not often that you see tots, tweens, teens and young adults all in the same place having fun together outside of a baseball game or theme park. But that was the hopping good time we discovered at Boing Jump Center in Tampa.
Open since late March, Boing offers a new twist on bouncing. Instead of jumping in an inflatable castle, bear or pirate ship, here you jump on wall-to-wall trampolines. In fact, the walls are also trampolines, so everyone will be bouncing off them. And the best part? You can't fall through. How did owners Michael and Chrystal Canales come up with this idea?
Thank Michael's love of the Ultimate Fighting Championships' Randy Couture. "My husband was watching a special about the Ultimate Fighting Championships and Randy Couture was training in a place just like this," said Chrystal Canales.
So here's what me and my two guinea pigs — um, I mean sons — found when we went to Boing.
More bounce to the ounce: The space is expansive, 11,000 square feet of trampoline area. There is the free and open bounce, where you can bounce to tunes and try tricks — but stay within your own abilities, Chrystal Canales said. No running or lying down allowed. The jump guards — like a pool's lifeguards — will help everyone follow the rules.
Will we see it on the Ocho? At Boing you can play a springy version of dodgeball, which had a line of kids of all ages waiting to play. Imagine getting a ball thrown at you while you are bouncing around trying to avoid a hit.
Helmet hair: Expect to get it if you are 18 and under and jump. The helmets protect kids' heads in case there is an accidental bump. (The helmets are cleansed with an antibacterial spray after each wearing.) Participants also wear special shoes — no jumping in socks allowed. The high-top shoes provide better traction and protect the ankles, Chrystal Canales said.
Let's get physical: Trust me, the kids are going to sweat, even though the place is fully air-conditioned and fans are going. The helmets are a little bulky for protection and get hot quickly. Most kids bounced for a while, came off the trampolines for a little rest and water, and then went back at it. There's also a Boingrobics class, in which you bounce the weight off.
Parents likey: There are tall tables and chairs and more cushy chairs in the free WiFi lounge inside Boing. It's a good place for parents to hang out while the kids bounce themselves silly.
Parents don't likey: Everyone from youngsters to young adults were bouncing. And that's not always a good thing, said Diane Vitoria, a mom of three from Brandon. "I would like to see them separate the age groups," said Vitoria, who was checking out the place as a possible birthday party spot.
It's a (play) date: On the afternoon we were there, the place was crazy busy. It was the last day for Hillsborough County public schools, and parents were trying to find something for their kids to do to get the summer started right. "One of the moms organized a sort of giant playdate," said Michelle Humphries of Lithia, who was with her two sons, 10 and 8. "I think (this place) is awesome. It's going to wear them out."
And that's a good thing: If the object is to tire kids out, I can attest to its effectiveness. My 8-year-old fell asleep in the car on the long drive back to St. Petersburg. My 11-year-old stayed awake, but that night, his head hit the pillow and he didn't get up until about 8 a.m. the next day. Mission accomplished.
Sherry Robinson is editor of Go Momma online and writes for the Whoa, Momma! blog. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8305.