Trampoline park Flip Out in East Ham tried and tested
PUBLISHED: 12:00 26 August 2017
Trampoline parks aren’t what they used to be. As a 80s child, I remember visits to drab leisure centres where pony-tailed instructors told you to “wait your turn” and you would sink into a foam pit if you were lucky.
Fast forward to 2017 and Flip Out is accelerating the change. The UK’s leading trampoline park operator is the Fast and Furious equivalent of adventure centres.
Take its new £1.8 million site at the former Granada theatre in Barking Road, East Ham.
The family attraction is London’s biggest trampoline park and home to its first 100-metre indoor caving and potholing experience.
Add on 12 climbing walls, two huge cyber tower assault courses, “stunt boxes” for free running and a “Ninja Warrior” assault course - that’s not even all - and you can see why kids are enthralled.
“One thing we hear all the time is that East Ham needed something like this,” explained operations manager James Blewitt.
“It is more of an energetic rush rather than anything. It takes you back to being a kid again no matter what age you are.
“You are going to try something that is a little scary or you’ll be out of your comfort zone and there are not many other places that do that.”
I discover exactly this on a visit with my colleague Sophie. The centre has three floors of energetic activities accompanied by stomping beats, graffiti-lined walls and thrills aplenty.
Before we can begin, we require a five-minute safety tutorial which forms the beginning of every one-hour standard session.
The £12 cost enables people to access the whole park but you’re likely to need longer to get round all the activities.
We start with jumping which is easy to do as the neon green-bordered trampolines cover two floors.
Once on them we are soon bouncing and laughing, and I remember how much I once enjoyed trampolining.
To our side, we watch enthralled by the free runners performing flips and dive off walls.
More terrifying is watching brave people take on the heart-pumping, 30ft-drop super slide.
“You can see people just sitting there contemplating whether to do it,” said James as we watched open-mouthed.
It’s no wonder only 50 per cent of people actually go through with it. We chicken out, obviously, so head to the ninja warrior obstacle course.
Two kids in front of us power around in no time putting me and Sophie to shame as we fall off beams and flail on the monkey bars.
Even less easy is the potholing that involves manoeuvring your way through a labyrinth of tunnels, with some in the dark.
It’s fun and satisfying to complete with good staff support but if you’re unfit or overweight you may struggle.
Health and fitness is in fact an element that has been embraced by Flip Out’s canny Australian CEO Brent Grundy.
Having started the company in Sydney back in 2012, he’s worked out it’s an excellent motivator for getting repeat visitors through the door.
East Ham is already hosting various fitness clubs aimed at different groups, with more planned for autumn.
One of these, Flip Fit, incorporates trampolining, stunt boxes and gymnastics to offer a circuit-based cardio workout for people aged 15 and over.
Women’s-only sessions currently run from 10am to 11am on Tuesday mornings and have proved so popular an evening session is set to be added soon.
There’s even an after-dark session completed with smoke machines and light shows for party-goers on Fridays.
This aside, reassuringly efforts have been made to preserve the venue’s heritage.
Original cinema seats offer character while some of the party rooms are named after previous musical performers.
Best of all, there’s a real concentration from the staff on the whole family enjoying themselves.
“It may be that one time that people come together and we do all we can to make sure they having fun,” said James.
Sounds flippin’ great.