Find: Airwalk, the new Bounce House for Older Kids
There was a phase when the kids were younger when every weekend was spent at one (or two) parties at an inflatable play gym. Soon the kids seemed to feel they had outgrown the inflatable venue, but they never tired of jumping (do we ever outgrow the fun of jumping, or do we just become too embarrassed to do it?).
Airwalk in Birmingham is the next level of birthday-style bouncing around. It is basically a large gymnasium covering an open landscape of trampolines. There is a grid for freestyle jumping and tumbling, a dive pit, an area for basketball dunking, and dodgeball. With the music and disco lights, Airwalk is reminiscent of the old skating rink hangout from back in the day (minus the shaky, slow skaters).
Although you might expect the kids with years of tumbling and cheering experience to have an advantage on the trampolines, the play areas are designed for more general play and interest boys as well as girls. A tethered ball hanging from the ceiling is an irresistible “brass ring” to try to jump and hit. Also, the dodge ball area has curved sides that return the balls back to the center, possibly the greatest improvement in the history of the game.
Referees roam the play area constantly to keep a safe distance between jumpers so that they avoid collisions. Refs also watch out for the smaller kids so they won’t be somehow bulldozed by the bigger ones. The number of jumpers is carefully monitored so there is sufficient space, which makes sense although it also means a reservation is essential for a busy weekend.Parents must sign a waiver for children to participate (available online in advance)
Airwalk has a kids-only jump time from 9-12 on weekday mornings (parents can jump along for free). There are party rooms for refreshments and mercifully, a comfortable observation area for parents. Truthfully, all that jumping looks like great fun. Fitness classes are in the works, so perhaps now we will have our excuse to jump around without that adult sense of embarrassed self-consciousness* that often hinders our fun.
*Or have our kids convinced us that we are embarrassing them? And couldn’t that be a sign that we are doing something right?