They fly through the air with the greatest of ease...those daring young kids on their bouncy trampolines!
It’s the middle of a school day and I’m surrounded by young teens doing tucks, pikes, straddles, back drops, seat drops and swivel hips - and a whole host of other weird and wonderful sounding moves.
As they bounce in unison, spectators are in awe of the long lines they create with their bodies, the stomach-turning somersaults and their incredible flexibility as their feet come up to meet their hands in perfect split kicks.
The only clue that they are not seasoned athletes are the school badges emblazoned on their black polo shirts. Welcome to the world of school curriculum trampolining.
As someone who is plagued with memories of schoolday PE, freezing in my football kit on the icy playing fields and getting thwacked around the ankles with hockey sticks, I’m incredibly envious - this looks like great fun.
“It is so much fun,” confirms Nicola Talbot, head of PE at Netherwood ALC School, who has been teaching trampolining at the Barnsley school for 12 years.
“It’s always been incredibly popular among the kids and it’s a brilliant way to stay fit while learning a great new skill.”
But can something that looks like so much fun really be a good workout too?
“Absolutely” insists Nicola.
“After about ten bounces, it really drains everything right out of your legs, it’s a great form of cardio and the demonstrating I do for the kids really helps to keep me in shape.”
Nicola, aged 42, began trampolining when she was at school herself and says the kids she teaches now really embrace the sport, even those who were nervous to begin with.
“So many kids are a little nervous the first time they climb on the trampoline,” she says.
“But we start by teaching them the basic shapes, how to spot, how to kill the bounce of the bed if they need to, then start going through some different bounces with them and their confidence quickly grows. In no time at all, they’ve fallen in love with it, it’s really addictive.”
And after seeing the popularity of the sport amongst young people at the school, Barnsley’s social enterprise ‘Team Activ,’ in partnership with South Yorkshire Sport, decided to launch two weekly evening classes for anyone in the region, aged five to 25, who fancies giving it a go for themselves.
“I think this is a great move,” says Nicola, who is qualified to level two as a trampolining coach.
“So many parents, when they come in to see us for parents evening, see the beds and say they’d love to try it, so it’s fantastic that now more people will be able to try their hand at this wonderful sport. There is currently nowhere else in the town where adults can go to try trampolining so I’m pleased that Team Activ has launched this club here at Netherwood.”
Clare Kaye is competition manager at Team Active, which runs a wide programme of activities in schools throughout the town. The focus of Team Activ’s work is to engage with schools and families to provide increased opportunities for children and young people to be more physically active.
Clare says: “We’ve been running Bounce Activ Trampolining Club at Netherwood ALC for six months and are up to about 80 members between the two Wednesday evening classes.
“Our two trampolining trainers held a showcase to demonstrate the sport when we first launched the class and about 100 people came along to check it out. Since then we’ve been inundated with entries and get new people coming along every single week.
“At first we had no idea what to expect or how well it would go down, but it’s easily the most popular club we’ve ever done, as it’s not like the usual football or athletics club, it’s something really different and has become an absolute craze.”
Ben Haigh, aged 13, has been trampolining at the school for three years and is the first to admit it can be nerve-wracking when you first give it a go.
“As soon as you start getting the basic moves in your head though, all the nerves go away,” says Ben.
“I think it’s something everyone should try, you’ve no idea until you try it for yourself how great it is.”
Bridie Randerson, 14, started trampolining six months ago.
She says: “It’s so enjoyable, and it’s absolutely brilliant when you learn something new, like the flips and somersaults, and you manage to do them for the first time - it’s such an achievement.”
Lloyd Taylor, 11, is a British Tumbling Champion and five-times Yorkshire Tumbling Champion. He has been trampolining at Netherwood for four months.
“I really love it,” says Lloyd.
“As a gymnast, I was looking forward to doing some of the somersaults I do at the gym on the trampoline bed and I’ve learned so much.
“I would encourage everybody to come and give trampolining a try because it’s so much fun, a great workout and you get to meet lots of great people.”
Team Activ founder, Darren Padgett, says: “Trampolining takes 80 per cent of the pressure from weight-bearing joints, so it is an excellent form of exercise for long-term health.
“It’s an excellent sport that often isn’t incorporated into children’s PE curriculums. The trampolining club is going from strength to strength and we plan to offer many more local clubs like this in the future.”
Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to know more about Bounce Activ Trampolining Club, held every Wednesday night at Netherwood ALC from 7-8pm, for 5-11 years old, and 8-9pm, for 11-25 year olds. Classes cost £3 per session.