What’s Up With Trampolines – A History Of Jumping

We know that trampolining is great fun, which explains why your kids are always asking you to bring them back to Rebounderz in Lansdale. In previous articles we’ve talked about the benefits of trampolining such as physical fitness, motor skill and balance improvement, and social skill development.

We began to wonder, where the heck did trampolines come from, and why did they take so long to catch on? After doing a little research, we realized that the history of the trampoline is really interesting and we wanted to share it with you. So, here it is, the history of trampolines brought to you by the team at Rebounderz in Lansdale. Enjoy!

The First Trampolines

While there is no hard and fast proof, many scholars agree that the first “bouncing device” to resemble the modern-day trampoline was used in ancient Egypt and China. Hieroglyphs depicting people jumping on what looks like a small trampoline-like device have been found by archaeologists. It is unknown what the devices were used for. Some historians have speculated that they were used by people at large sporting or civic events who wanted to get a better view. We find that pretty amusing. Just picture it. Doesn’t the image of a bunch of people jumping up and down to see over the heads of the crowd make you smile?

The first trampolining games are attributed to the Inuits in Alaska who used walrus skins to bounce on and to throw people into the air for fun. You can still find blanket tosses, the modern-day equivalent of the walrus-skin toss, at celebrations and festivals throughout Alaska.

Pablo Fanque, a famous 19th century british circus owner and equestrian performer referred to a trampoline performance in promotional posters for his Circus Royal.

The Modern Day Trampoline

The history of the modern-day trampoline, like the ones you’ll find at Rebounderz in Lansdale, is still the subject of debate among historians. While no one is sure which one of the historical recollections is true, they are all pretty interesting.

Circus folklore attributes the first modern trampoline to a circus performer named Du Trampolin. They say that he was the first to replace rope landing nets used by trapeze artists with trampolines that gave them both a landing pad and a jumping-off place for performances.

Everyone, other than a few circus-history diehards, believes that this story is either untrue or exaggerated. But we like the idea of the trampoline originating at the circus. It seems rather appropriate.

Confirmed Trampoline History

The first trampoline that resembles those used by modern Olympic gymnasts was invented at the University of Iowa around 1936. Gymnast and diver George Nissen, and gymnastics team member Larry Griswold, are credited with its invention. Apparently, they got the idea from watching trapeze artists at a circus, so maybe those stories of Du Trampolin aren’t so aprophical after all! They took the name trampoline from the Spanish word for diving board, trampolín.

The Griswold and Nissen Trampoline and Tumbling company began manufacturing trampolines in 1942. Their first product was called a rebound tumbler. Are you starting to see a connection here? We added the Z, but clearly Rebounderz Trampoline Arenas are based on a little bit of history too!

The rebounder tumblers were used recreationally, just like the trampolines at Rebounderz. There was even a game called Spaceball where a jumper threw a ball, attempting to hit a target on the other side. Who knows, maybe that was the origin of the dodgeball games people play on trampolines today. We like to think it could be.

Trampolines and Competitive Sport

Competitive trampolining was introduced to the Olympic Games in 2000 thanks in great part to Jeff Hennessy, a University of Louisiana at Lafayette coach who advocated for the sport. He eventually became a coach for the United States trampoline team. Modern gymnasts achieve heights of 33 feet! You won’t reach those heights at Rebounderz, but it will feel like you have!

Trampoline Parks

The early 1960s ushered in the era of trampoline parks with the first jump centers. The first parks were outdoors. The outdoor parks turned out to be a little too dangerous though, which is why it took so long for the modern-day trampoline arena to show up on the scene.
Today, there are an estimated 100 indoor trampoline parks all over the world. That number has grown from just 25-40 parks in 2011. We think that’s great. Rebounderz in Lansdale is the best place to have a modern-day trampoline experience. Our trampolines employ the latest safety technology. All of our jumpers are well-supervised. And we’ve got modern-day versions of Spaceball, including basketball dunking and dodgeball.

Bring the family by soon for your trampoline arena experience. We’re sure that once you do, you’ll be hooked just like we are. See you soon!