Bouncing off the walls

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Yesterday I did something I wouldn’t recommend to anyone. I took a group of 10 pre-teen boys out for the day. I know, what was I thinking? Individually, each of those boys is lovely, polite and charming. In a pack of 10, they’re like crazed excitable beasts – all talking AT THE SAME TIME about all those things you that can imagine 12-year-olds find funny, but the rest of us don’t. I won’t need to hear another fart joke for a while, that’s for sure.

And yet, my day out with the beasts (I also had Mr Muddy and another dad in tow – but they weren’t beast-like), was actually pretty darned good (aside from the jokes). And that’s entirely down to AirHop in Guildford. What a brilliant place to take 10 energetic and excitable boys (and two nine-year-old mudettes). They could literally bounce off the walls. And I can assure you – they did!

If you don’t know it, AirHop is an indoor trampolining park, with 50 interconnected trampolines in the free jumping area, as well as a foam pit, a dodge-ball arena and two basketball rings for slam dunking. If you’re looking for somewhere to take the kids this half-term, I can thoroughly recommend it. (Kids have to be at least five to bounce.)

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The Guildford AirHop was the third bounce park to open in the UK, borrowing from an idea that had already taken the US and Australia by storm. The owner, Karl Godau, is an Australian with a background in gymnastics. Clearly, he saw an opening and jumped right on it (geddit!).

Seriously though, Karl was obviously on to something, because, in the two years since the Guildford AirHop opened, they’ve been popping up all over the country. There are now 68 bounce parks, with plans for more. AirHop also has a branch in Bristol (the world’s biggest with 135 trampolines in the free jumping area) and branches in Solihull and Croydon are opening soon.

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They take safety seriously. All jumpers must watch a short safety video, and there’s a strict set of rules that must be observed, including the one jumper per trampoline rule, and no double bouncing, running, wrestling or rough play. Somersaults are okay, but only two in a row, and only when they’re single somersaults. Doubles are a no-no.

All the walls are lined with 8ft high trampoline walls, and above that is safety netting. AirHop staff are in no short supply, stationed at regular intervals throughout the park to make sure the jumpers follow the rules. And they don’t take any nonsense. Hang from the basketball ring longer that you should, and they’ll soon let you know!

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There is an elevated cafe, from where you can watch your kids and enjoy a cuppa. Pretty much the whole trampoline park is visible from up there. Coffees are £2.30, tea is £1, and there are also snacks and cold drinks available.

AirHop Guildford is open Monday to Friday, 10am-8pm, Saturday and Sunday, 9am – 6pm. A one-hour jump session (including the non-slip AirHop socks) is £11.50 per person. The birthday party package starts at £160 for 10 guests, and includes one hour of jump time with a private dodge-ball game and 30 minutes use of the private party room, plus pizzas and drinks. And if you’re feeling flush, you can hire out the entire park for a private party. Prices for that on request.

AirHop House, 12 Midleton Industrial Estate Road Guildford Surrey GU2 8XW. Tel: 0330 223 33 33. airhop-guildford.com

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