Grown-ups tend to have very set ideas about what constitutes ‘exercise.’ Aerobics classes, boot camp and yoga are all great ways to keep yourself in good nick, and have a degree of fun whilst you’re at it. However, nothing I’ve yet tried in the world of fitness has provided me with the unbridled, childish joy I experienced at Oxygen Freejumping.
From the outside, Oxygen does its best to distinguish itself from all the other corrugated metal warehouses tucked away at the back of Vision industrial park. At a 10 minute walk from West Action tube it’s hardly a stretch to find, but the bright paint job certainly helps. I have to admit, I’m surprised it’s taken this long for a trampoline park to open in London. They’ve been popping up all over the country, but Oxygen is the first within the M25.
It was worth the wait. A quick bit of waiver-signing at the front desk and you’re whisked off into a safety briefing. Though it might feel like the DNA video at the start of Jurassic Park, it’s good to know you can’t get out on the floor without being told the rules. Once you’ve got your sticky socks on and you’ve been adequately prepared, you’re let loose on the place.
At any one time you have access too:
– Regular trampolines
– Trampolines set at right-angles to bounce you off walls
– Tumble-tracks with an airbag at the end for the riskier business
– Trampoline dodge ball courts
– Olympic trampolines (to throw you higher)
– A Gladiators-style assault course
– Free running obstacles, complete with coaching from the one and only Sebastien Foucan.
The last point is the biggest one for me, and it’ll be what separates Oxygen from its competitors for years to come. Like emo music and shaving slots in your eyebrows, Parkour was a one of the things that defined being a teenage boy in the noughties. Now it seems Jump London has come full circle. Sebastien came into the partnership with Oxygen late, but has already made his presence felt. In fact, such is the confidence in the partnership that all future Oxygen Freejumping parks across the UK will host Foucan Freerunning Academies.
His obstacle track sits underneath the mezzanine, and can be reconfigured depending on the skill you want to develop. He’s training his students there full time now, and is keen to keep them away from any exercise that isn’t intrinsically fun. Calling out to my recently-awakened inner 13 year old, Sebastien sums it up as: “it’s movement, it’s expression, and it’s fun.” Could there be a better combination for a day out? His energy is contagious, and was it not for the supervisor clearing us out, I like to think I could have got stuck right back in.
If this hasn’t swayed you yet, here are 5 reasons you should visit Oxygen (rather than any other leisure centre):
1) The space is fantastic. I may only be 5 foot 6, but at no point did I ever feel like I was going to crash into anything, or that I might bump my head on a ceiling.
2) The staff. Every member of staff I spoke to on the day knew their stuff (thank you Emma for the somersault lesson, and Amin and Solomon for the impromptu physiology lesson). No surly lifeguards here, the staff are knowledgeable, watchful and enthusiastic to a fault.
3) SEBASTIEN FOUCAN (as mentioned above).
4) The health benefits. An hour bouncing on a trampoline can burn 1000 calories. That’s twice that of running, and about 300 more than rowing. It works your legs and core, helps develop your balance, and hones fast-twitch muscles. Yes, you get on the sort of sweat that could kill a fever, but it’s worth every drop.
5) The cost. You’ll be hard pushed to find an hour-long equivalent for £12.50 in Zone 3.
Now, if you’re the sort that might not fancy spending an hour bouncing but don’t want others to know, there is a café and a fitness studio where you can spend your time in a more grown-up manner. There are even plans in the works to fill a niche for a trampoline-based fitness class. But I can’t help but think that that isn’t really the point. In the same way you don’t go to a nightclub to talk on the phone, you don’t go to a trampolining and freerunning complex to sit in the café and read a paper. I dropped all veils of maturity the minute I set foot to fibre, and my experience was all the better for it.
The site opened on Monday the 20th, and they’re taking bookings now. Do your inner child a favour and give it an hour that’ll keep it happy for weeks.
Vision Industrial Park
Reporter: Joe Emerick
Insta – @joemerick89
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