Exercise is one of the best things that you can do for yourself to help take care of your body. Physical fitness has always been important to me, but once I entered college, I learned that it’s more important than ever.
There are so many activities out there to help people stay fit, but one of my favorites is trampolining. Ever since I can remember, my family has almost always had a trampoline in the backyard. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t able to just go outside and hop on the trampoline whenever I pleased.
Some of my favorite childhood memories were made on trampolines, including games like “Marco Polo” and “Popcorn” with my neighbors and friends. Aside from the fun and games, trampolines have also provided me with my own personal outlet.
After a hard day at school, the first thing I would turn to in nice weather was my trampoline. Jumping helps me let out steam, spend some much-needed time alone, and most importantly it helps to keep me physically fit. When I was in seventh grade, I was diagnosed with idiopathic scoliosis, which is an unexplained curve of the spine.
My doctors told me that it was not an immediate threat to my health, but that it was crucial for me to maintain strong core muscles to prevent it from getting worse as I aged. One of the many ways that I worked at building a stronger core was by trampolining.
It takes balance, coordination, and an incredible amount of endurance. Through my many years of jumping, I have built and maintained a strong core, and because of that I can say that my spinal curve has finally stabilized in my early adult years.
If it wasn’t for the incredible exercise and muscle-building offered by my trampoline, my spine could be much worse today. Trampolining isn’t just for fun. It has proved to be a personally effective way for me to maintain my health and well-being, and I hope that other people get to enjoy the same experiences and benefits that I have from trampolines.
Trampoline Story 1:
“ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR, I DECLARE A BUTT WAR!”
My father as a young man and new parent and had somehow acquired a pro status Nissen trampoline. The bed was about five feet by 10 feet, rectangular and nylon with a satisfying red cross centered in the middle. The bed was attached via springs to a burly steel frame that could be folded down into thirds and rotated along a 180 degree axis which allowed it to be stowed away in our garage.
The folded contraption could be rolled around on two T shaped legson wheels which seemed industrial strength. They would not seem out of place in a mechanic’s shop perhaps as an engine stand. Amazingly this 400 pound trampoline managed to follow my family as we moved across the country from San Diego and around the greater metro area of Minneapolis, five homes before I turned 13.
As I write this, I am amazed that my incredibly frugal father managed to justify the original upfront expense of the trampoline let alone the financial and psychological moving tax it imposed on our family.
Was the trampoline ever a source of contention between my parents facing yet another house move? But moving logistics were not my concern as a child. My concerns revolved around winning as many butt wars as I could. A butt war was a tennis match of seat drops played between two people on opposite halves of the trampoline.
One simply had to bounce, land butt first on the bed, and return to one’s feet. Each would alternate (feet, butt, feet, butt, feet, butt.) until one aspirant was unable to return to their feet after bouncing off their butt. The idea was through pacing or force to knock your opponent out of rhythm and claim victory.
The butt war was a gateway to the joyful and weightless world offered by the trampoline. As childhood gave way to adolescence, seat drops became more elaborate twists and flips. Eventually I even removed the wheels and hardware from the underside of my skateboard and used the temporary freedom from gravity to better understand the mechanics of moves I could yet achieve gravity bound.
The trampoline was a vehicle for my growth and that’s probably why my dad lugged it half way across the country. It was a tool that built courage through incremental mastery of an unfamiliar world and technique through diligent repetition.
Those simple lessons have brought me to the door of graduate school and ultimately a vocation as a Physician Assistant. It would be silly to attribute sole credit of my academic development to the faithful Nissen, but perhaps it’s equally silly to grant my attendance in school lone credit for my education.
Trampoline Story 2:
“Hurry up Jamie! Park the car, go go go!” Liz shouted as I drove past the signs that read Sky High Sports. It was an early Saturday morning and I had offered to watch my six-year-old cousin as her mommy and daddy met with their divorce lawyers downtown to finalize the paperwork.
Before I was able to park my small Toyota Prius, Liz was already unbuckling her seat belt ready to bounce out of the car and make a run for the entrance. As I was stuffing her small little red socks and blue jeans into my bag, I caught myself thinking about how her life will forever change the moment those divorce papers were signed and finalized. Poor Liz. Poor family.
“Come on Jamie! There is already a line to use the bouncy house!” she yelled as I lugged our extra pair of clothes in through the door. I was immediately taken by surprise by the amount of kids screaming and bouncing from one end of the enormous room to the other. The walls were lined with blue and yellow buffers and the large trampoline exhibited the same pattern.
To my right was a foam pit large enough to fit a school bus filled with kids. As Liz took off her shoes and socks and entered into the house, I could not help myself but to smile. To watch her innocent and carefree smile light up her face was enough to bring a smile on mine.
She rushed through the line to enter and was already making friends with whoever bounced her way. Her short sloppy side-tails flopped up and down as she landed hard on her feet each time she went up. “So this was what happiness looked like.” I thought to myself as I placed our belongings into the locker.
I quickly yanked my shoes and socks off and joined her as she danced and bounced from all four corners. I bounced and jumped with her, my rhythmic jumping pushing her further up each time I landed. All I wanted to do at that moment was to keep jumping.
To encourage her to keep jumping higher and higher. Family members were applauding and clapping their children on as they showed off different tricks. Smiles and giggles filled the entire room. I glanced over at Liz to make sure she was still doing okay.
I wondered to myself if she felt out of place. If she wondered why her new friends’ parents cheered their kids on but she was never on the receiving end of those cheers. Liz’s face did not depict such emotions.
In fact, she was still giggling and showing off her dance moves to the twin sisters she had just met. Liz had called me over to where she was- with the big boys and girls on the large trampoline.
I tumbled and bounced over to her to see what she had wanted. “Watch me! Watch me touch my knees!” she shouted as she was spinning around. I gave her two thumbs up and she smiled back at me. Sweat droplets began to develop around her forehead and left a trail running on her cheeks.
Her huffing and puffing made me happy to know she was actually enjoying her time while also getting a good workout in. At that moment, all my thoughts of her broken family vanished. All I could do was smile and jump up and down with her. Her little hands reaching further and further up, seemingly trying to touch the ceiling.
I knew at that moment that there were no other feeling in this world that could compare to that of reaching for the sky. All that mattered was that Liz was consumed with pure blissful exhilaration even if it was only for two hours.
Before I start the next story check out this interesting video:
Trampoline Story 3:
My parents would never buy a trampoline for us, regardless of how much we begged. I was forced to use the neighbors on the occasion that they were home. The longest I ever spent on a trampoline was at a team dinner. 23 sweaty, high school girls crammed on one trampoline, laughing hysterically as we played kids’ games while the parents chatted. A team bonding experience that I will always remember. The following piece is a look into how my sports career developed:
“Field hockey, is that like ice hockey? I hear you can only use one side of the stick?”
Until open house, I never considered picking it up. I was an overwhelmed eighth grader, taking flyers at every booth. From robotics to Ambassador Club to bowling, I wandered the gymnasium jotting my email on ‘expressed-interest’ sign-up sheets.
At this event, I met the one and only, Coach Opie. A true character and salesman, he was recruiting potential players. “Try field hockey it’s great!!!!” And so I did.
I attended the annual summer camp, and saw Opie for the second time. He asked my name and checked me in.
“ABBY LANEE!! ABBY LAANEE!!!”
He apparently enjoyed how my name rolled off his tongue. He asked if I was excited, but the quiet freshman replied with a half-hearted, “yeah!” He immediately got in my face, trying to conjure a more animated response, but I nervously laughed and continued walking. He was a little too outgoing for me, but he made sure it was the norm by senior year.
Come tryouts, I arrived with all my equipment, but forgot one critical piece: my physical. I triple checked everything the night before—I couldn’t believe I forgot it, as I am usually on top of everything. I panicked. What if I didn’t make the team and all my friends did? I sat out the first half hour, but luckily my mom rescued me and I made the freshman team.
After tryouts, it annoyed me that five freshmen made JV and I was stuck on freshman. I was used to standing out and being the best, and I thought I was talented enough to be with the better group, but it turns it was for the best: I was voted one of four captains (I was shocked that my teammates even knew who I was). I guess coach Opie helped. “ABBYY LANEEEEEE.”
I realized how much I loved field hockey: making plays, dribbling down the field, and being a part of something. During English class, I found myself recapping yesterday’s game and each memorable play. After four years, I still remember specific moments from games, and my heart still races like it happened yesterday.
After the season ended, I didn’t know what to do with myself. At 11 pm, I would roll back my rug and push-pass and sweep the ball against it. I signed up for all the off-season opportunities, including winter sessions and Futures.
Futures was terrifying: seven raw, frigid hours. A freshman who’s been playing for four months immersed with Ann Arbor players who’ve played since third grade. I struggled, but realized I was athletic enough to rival them during the last two hours of scrimmaging.
I improved significantly. I went to camp and summer workouts. I stood out and was grouped with the upperclassmen. When tryouts came around, I made varsity as a sophomore, beating out several juniors and classmates who had made JV the previous year.
I played about 7 minutes a game and some I didn’t even get in. I was frustrated—I knew I was better than several of the juniors and seniors. When junior year came, the classmates I passed had caught up to me. I had to prove I was better than them, and deserved to make varsity last year. I did. I also proved I could beat the class above me, and secured a starting position. The time I was benched during sophomore year proved worth it. I was getting much more playing time, and was surrounded by familiar teammates that developed alongside me for two years.
Finally, senior year and I’m the only varsity captain. Never playing JV, my four years have been unlike anyone else’s. This is our year, and we’re on the forward drive to a state championship, giving those Ann Arbor schools a run for their money.
Trampolines never meant much to me, but they remind me of the one dinner where my team bonded. Freshmen laying on top of seniors; we all created a crater that almost touched the ground. We were separated from everything else by the thin, mesh net that somehow held us all in. When reminded of trampolines, I am reminded of my high school days of field hockey.
The sport defined me in high school, and it was my only method of recreational activity. I did it for fun but it also motivated me for four years. The time management taught me how to be efficient, and productive. It also shaped me into a leader. Without field hockey, I would not have been shaped into the student who was accepted into the University of Notre Dame. I entered and exited high school as a different person. I was not shy or timid at the end of senior year. I was at the top, but could also relate to the freshmen coming in.
Four years flew by, and now college seems to be going at least twice as fast. I no longer have the spare time to sit on a trampoline for hours. There is constant homework and stress and overachieving. I am doing my best to keep up with all my bright peers. The thought of jumping around, barefoot, on a trampoline doesn’t sound too bad, as it is snowing and a frigid 23 degrees right now. Maybe a trampoline would be a good campus addition.