We Tried It: SkyRobics

Different warm up excercies for SkyRobics included jumping jacks and squats. (Colin Kerrigan / Philly.com)

When Sports Doc first learned about the new Sky Zone location in Oaks last March, I talked to a few people who’d tried the workout.

“Exhausting,” said one woman who was enough of an athlete to play two sports at the collegiate level. “I barely made it through that.”

So when Health Producer Kelly O’Shea expressed interest in doing the workout, I was all too happy to take her up on that offer. “Awesome,” I said. “I’ll come along, check it out and write about your experience.”

I was pretty happy with that decision as I watched an exhausted young woman leave the class area as Kelly and Philly.com intern Megan Schmidt awaited their turns. But then Sky Zone operations manager Martin Boemer handed me a pair of special trampoline shoes. “You’ll need these if you’re going in there,” he said. “Even if you’re just watching.”

See, of the 36,000 square feet that comprises Sky Zone Oaks, almost 20,000 of them are made of trampolines. Even if you’re just observing a class, you’re bouncing or balancing on the trampoline.

The class began simply enough, as SkyRobics instructor Laura Fried gave some simple instructions on safety and repeated her own specially crafted motto, “Our goals today are to sweat, smile, and have fun!”

Participants start by performing simple side-to-side jumps from square to square on the trampoline surface. They progressed to the side walls of the trampoline, where they pushed up into standing positions in core tightening exercises. Next were several routines lasting 30 seconds each, including mountain climbers, push-ups and squat jumps.      

And that’s just the first 10 minutes.

As the class proceeded to run (gallop?) four laps around the trampoline area, Megan ran past proclaiming, “This is intense.” Ten seconds later, it’s Kelly’s turn. “This is pretty tough.”

It’s safe to say Fried accomplished her goals. They’re sweating... but nonetheless smiling. And even off to the side, somewhat detached from the class itself, I could tell one thing.

This looks like serious fun.

The Idea

“Depending how hard you push yourself, you can burn up to 1,000 calories per hour of SkyRobics,” Fried told me during a break.

Judging by the activities, Kelly and Megan easily approached that mark. A crawl through a foam pit was followed by a trip back to the trampolines, where the class simulated rope climbing drills while bouncing. Next is a set of jumping jacks followed by a couple laps around the surface while passing a dodgeball back and forth.

“After three laps around that court, I thought my heart was going to pound right out of my chest,” recalled Kelly. “This is definitely a little harder than the average workout.”

“I have to judge activities based on who’s in the class,” explained Fried. “Yesterday, I had several guests who were in their 70s.”

I hesitated for a second before remembering what Steve Egan, the Oaks’ location’s general manager told me earlier. “We don’t use the word customer,” he said. “Everyone who comes in here is our guest.”

The diversity of classes—Egan says kids as young as 18 have taken the SkyRobics course alongside the aforementioned guests in their 70s—speaks to the pliability of the workout. “Sure, it’s intense,” admitted Egan. “But it’s low-impact, and easy on your joints. It’s an ideal opportunity for people of all shapes and sizes, and all fitness levels.”

SkyRobics is just the beginning. Birthday parties at Sky Zone are becoming popular for the younger crowd, while Sky Mania and Sky Jam events on Friday and Saturday nights cater to the middle school and teenage crowds. Those looking for a competitive experience will want to check out Sky Zone’s dodgeball tournaments, starting April 22.

As the class concluded, I gave in and attempted a few dunks on the trampoline basketball rims, which sit adjacent to one another and range from 8-11 feet in height. “This is amazing—I haven’t been on a trampoline since I was about five,” Kelly said. The success—or lack thereof—of my alley-oop attempts was proof enough that I’m not particularly familiar either.

Martin Boemer met us in the lobby to offer organic sodas as a post-workout drink. “We’re committed to fitness, so you won’t see Coke or Pepsi products here,” Steve Egan explained. “You’re going to burn several hundred calories… then what? Just eat them back up? All our snacks and drinks are organic.”

The class session ended, but as we returned the trampoline shoes to the front desk, I loitered around the lobby waiting for Martin.

I’m signed up for my own session next week.

For more information on Sky Zone Oaks, visit http://www.skyzone.com/oaks or call 484-927-4433.

Read more Sports Doc for Sports Medicine and Fitness.