The Yes Woman: Getting the jump on terror with a trampoline

Visiting Jump Zone wasn’t for fitness or intellectual betterment: it was supposed to be its own reward, fun for its own sake, and I was terrified

Jump Zone in  south Dublin: ‘If the children were anything to go by, then that brief ascent, in which you dominate gravity and float for a breathless moment in midair, produces a frenzied sort of joy.’

Jump Zone in south Dublin: ‘If the children were anything to go by, then that brief ascent, in which you dominate gravity and float for a breathless moment in midair, produces a frenzied sort of joy.’

 

Anxiety can rear its barbed head at the most bizarre times. Imagine yourself in an industrial estate in a south Dublin suburb, leaning against the fence of an outdoor car park, dry-retching at the gravel. You’re gurning at your running shoes as though they’ve wronged you. This car park happens to be outside Jump Zone – a facility full of trampolines – in Sandyford, and you’re doubled over your guts with watering eyes because the idea of getting on a trampoline fills you with such nervousness that you have to leave, quite rudely, two minutes prior to the dry-retching.

How perfectly ridiculous. How unseemly. How. . . “Oh, hullo!” I am interrupted and torn from my chagrin by some children emerging from Jump Zone, hair stuck to pates damp with exercise. I greet them in that completely inappropriate voice that my larynx adopts when I’m socially uncomfortable. It sounds like an offensive impression of a seven-year-old Cockney chimney sweep boy from a historical drama the BBC might make. “Hullooo!” The cadence is all wrong, and my voice rises several octaves to finish the word in a strangled, trailed-off sort of way.

While they look at me with a lot of pupil and very little iris, small mouths slackly open, their mother ushers them into the car, shooting worried glances at me as though I might live in this car park and she might have to deal with me the next time she brought her children jumping.

I had walked into Jump Zone a few minutes earlier to encounter an army of small, jumping children. I’d unfortunately visited during a school holiday, and there wasn’t an adult to be seen, except for those who supervise, occasionally telling the children to be careful, stop jumping on each other, and to stop pretending to injure themselves for the fun of terrifying their parents.

I could see that trampolining – which probably isn’t a verb, but language falls short – is fantastic exercise. Like swimming, it gets the heart working hard while being kind to joints, and it doesn’t have an age limit. If the children were anything to go by, then that brief ascent, in which you dominate gravity and float for a breathless moment in midair, produces a frenzied sort of joy. The kind that results in squeals and maniacal laughter. It certainly seems an effective way to help your children reach a healthy level of sated exhaustion on a day off.

Uneasy

I took the Luas home feeling entirely deflated and ridiculous. Frightened by some limber children and a glorified piece of stretchy fabric. When I got home, my partner politely inquired whether I’d had fun, because that’s precisely what you would ask someone after they’d jumped about for a while, and I was obliged to respond by petulantly declaring that I had been overwhelmed by a sense of impending doom, and simply could not under any circumstances possibly go back, on account of having made an arse of myself for no comprehensible reason at all.

The Yes Woman series is about trying new things, things to which I’m resistant, which it appears is most things. And then I realised. Here was an activity with absolutely no higher purpose, and I mean that in the best possible way. Though Jump Zone run fearsome fitness classes, in which you purportedly burn 1,000 calories in an hour, I wasn’t going there directly to improve myself. It wasn’t for fitness or intellectual betterment. The experience was supposed to be its own reward. I was set loose in a soft, colourful environment and instructed to have fun. Fun for its own sake, and I was terrified.

Just jump about, challenge your body as much or as little as you like, perhaps try a few tricks. Give a handstand a go, spin in the air. Let yourself go. It sounds simple, but I have never been able to do it.

I went back on St Patrick’s Day, when I hoped it would be quiet. I was fuelled by a one-sided enmity with trampolines as a concept, and a determination not to be conquered by them. My partner came with me like some sort of conservationist releasing a traumatised lab monkey back into the wild, coaxing me on to the trampoline while saying soothing things such as: “It can’t hurt you. See? It’s nice! You’re safe.”

Back uncomfortably straight

Before long, I was jumping with all the might I could force into my unathletic knees, my lungs screaming in protest, and marvelling at the tricks the staff could do while feeling very glad that I’d had the foresight to wear a sports bra, because gravity is fiercely unforgiving. I did more falling over than anything else, and once managed to jump bum first into a wall, but I got on the trampoline and I enjoyed it.

Afterwards we sat on the ground beside the floor of trampolines, caught our breath and watched the people in the fitness class bettering themselves. We agreed that it was a terribly admirable use of one’s time, wincing as the instructor had them doing what might be described as some sort of midair contorted starfish formation.

Given that we had not gone to better ourselves but rather to have fun it seemed clear the best course of action was to go for burgers in a spirit of triumph at having achieved nothing at all and survived.

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