Jumping for Joy

I f you’ve seen an episode of American Ninja Warrior, you know that obstacle courses aren’t just for kids. Rockin’ Jump of East Haven knows it, too. Even for adults, completing the new trampoline arena’s Ninja Course isn’t a slam dunk—though that’s something else you can do at Rockin’ Jump.

A pit packed with green foam cubes runs under the Ninja Course, which includes a series of angled “quad steps,” a trapeze bar, a rope net, gymnastic rings and floating discs and swings to walk across. It may be as entertaining to watch as it is to do. “The teens and twenty-year-olds, they’ll just go for it,” says Megan Telford, the park’s digital marketing and design specialist. “It’s fun to see people fall, to see people make it.” Finishers get their picture posted on Rockin’ Jump’s Facebook page as Ninja Champions. “It’s pretty difficult,” says Telford, who admits she hasn’t yet made it through the course herself.

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On a recent Wednesday after school, Rockin’ Jump is mostly populated with young kids and their parents, though a few teens show up to try their tricks. Employee Austin Cofrancesco comes during his off hours to jump in the main arena, where a sea of trampolines are laid out in a grid lined with green gym mats. Cofrancesco has obviously been practicing—he performs aerial flips and twists with ease. He’s also made it through the Ninja Course. “My best time is a minute-twenty,” he reports. “I don’t think there’s a science behind it. I just think you kind of get lucky, so you don’t fall or slip.”

Over in the Slam Dunk Zone, two kids are playing basketball with its own twist, shooting from a trampoline that could catapult someone with enough weight high enough to dunk like the pros. Nearby, on the X-Beam, two girls are duking it out gladiator-style over another foam pit, attempting to knock one another off with giant padded logs as weapons (another favorite with adults, according to Telford). There’s also a giant stunt bag to launch into from the tramps and a dodgeball court made entirely of trampolines that’s especially popular with birthday parties. Rockin’ Jump includes three party rooms and packages that offer 75 minutes in the gym followed by pizza and other treats. The gym also hosts fundraisers, corporate functions, school field trips and other group events.

Neon Jump Night on Fridays and Saturdays from 9 to 11 p.m. is “a really cool teen, young adult experience,” Telford says. Jumpers get free face paint that glows in the black lights. Other slots during the week accommodate kids six and under, and on Rockin’ Wednesdays everyone can jump for two hours for the price of one. Non-jumpers are invited to relax in one of several massage chairs or hang out in the cafe, which serves fast food prepared on-site.

Trampolining is “fitness disguised as fun,” Telford says. “We don’t have video games or anything like that. We’re focused on the fitness.” No matter what activity you choose, she adds, it’s a good workout. “It’s definitely cardio. Your heartbeat definitely goes up. And you feel it the next day.” Some patrons reportedly even come weekly to work the Ninja Course as part of their fitness routine.

The American Academy of Pediatrics warns about the risks of jumping on trampolines: head and neck injuries, broken bones, sprains and strains and an array of minor injuries. Rockin’ Jump takes a number of precautions to make it safer. A team of staff called the Jump Patrol monitor each area of the gym, lifeguard-style, keeping jumpers on separate trampolines when possible. If the park is crowded, they move jumpers under six into their own area and make sure that two people jumping together are roughly the same height and weight. “The most important part of trampolining,” Telford notes, “is not bouncing that other person you’re near.” Everyone has to watch a safety video before entering the gym, and special socks are required for safe traction; visitors buy a pair on arrival (ankle $3, calf $6) and bring them back each time they jump.

Rockin’ Jump’s first Connecticut location opened in Trumbull three years ago, when a local couple, Steven and Roni Rodier, decided to turn their daughter’s athletic pursuit into a business. Instead of starting from scratch, they reached out to Rockin’ Jump, based in California, and were offered the company’s first franchise, Telford says. Their East Haven location opened earlier this year; meanwhile, 43 other Rockin’ Jump franchises have opened in the US, along with locations in Thailand, China and Canada, the corporate website reports.

The company’s logo, a jumping frog with its limbs spread wide, bears no small resemblance to some of East Haven’s jumping kids. One of his eyes bugs open, as if he’s never seen something quite like this before. The kids at Rockin’ Jump look less surprised and more just plain old happy.

Rockin’ Jump
709 Foxon Rd, East Haven (map)
(203) 397-6726
Website | HoursPricing

Written and photographed by Kathy Leonard Czepiel.

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About Kathy Leonard Czepiel

View all posts by Kathy Leonard Czepiel
Kathy Leonard Czepiel is The Daily Nutmeg’s associate editor. She’s also a fiction writer, writing teacher and book club troubleshooter at KathyLeonardCzepiel.com. Her favorite New Haven scene is a packed summer concert on the Green with dinner from the food trucks, and she loves that there’s always something new to discover here.

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