Eileen Hennessy, right, goes airborne as sister Felicia Hennessy watches at Sky Zone in Torrance, a newly opened trampoline gymnasium. Photo by Brad
Eileen Hennessy, right, goes airborne as sister Felicia Hennessy watches at Sky Zone in Torrance, a newly opened trampoline gymnasium. Photo by Brad Graverson 3-29-12

Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park, the first of its kind in the South Bay, has moved into a 30,000-square-foot former warehouse in Harbor Gateway.

The $1.3-million complex is filled with a half-dozen different trampoline courts, including an 18-foot-deep pit filled with more than 16,000 foam cubes into which trampoliners can plunge.

So what emotion did the sleek, futuristic-looking park evoke from Torrance resident Emily Pryor, perspiring from a strenuous workout with friends on Friday, the facility's opening day?

Nostalgia.

"I feel like a little kid again jumping on my neighbor's backyard trampoline," said Pryor, a 19-year-old San Jose State student who graduated last year from Torrance High School.

ON THE WEB?

Still, Pryor's comment proves that whatever the difference in scale that exists between that affectionately remembered backyard trampoline and the vast expanse of them at Sky Zone, the park is basically a 21st century update of a childhood favorite.

Always wanted to slam dunk a la Air Jordan?

Now even the shortest, least athletic type can with the Sky Slam, a trampoline that sits beneath a basketball hoop.

Fondly remember those childhood games of dodgeball?

Now participants can play a 3-D version on a dodgeball trampoline court and bounce off walls.

"Dodgeball has been around a long time, but no one ever played it on trampolines before, so we've sort of taken it to a whole new level," Sky Zone President Jeff Platt said.

"You're looking at probably about 150 trampolines in that facility in total and about 18,000 square feet of trampoline space," he added.

It's the 18th trampoline park the Los Angeles company has opened nationwide, but its first in Southern California.

The company has several competitors with similar facilities in Costa Mesa and Woodland Hills.

It's a burgeoning industry. USA Today reported last year that 50 trampoline parks nationwide generate revenues approaching $100 million.

Eric Carter with his daughter Evyn, 3, at Sky Zone in Torrance. They are  from Gardena. Photo by Brad Graverson 3-29-12
Eric Carter with his daughter Evyn, 3, at Sky Zone in Torrance. They are from Gardena. Photo by Brad Graverson 3-29-12

Sky Zone was the first, however - it holds the patent on a walled, all-trampoline court - building its initial court in 2004.

The company had spent 2 1/2 years and a couple million dollars trying to turn the concept into a team sport from its Las Vegas trampoline park.

Needing cash flow, the company took a "leap of faith," Platt said, and opened it up to kids flocking to a skate park next door. The idea took off.

Predictably, adults soon got into the act, too.

"There's not too many things out there that you can participate in with your kids, have as much fun as they do and get a workout while you're doing it," Platt said. "People come to us because of the fun factor, but you get a tremendous workout when you participate in any of our activities or (fitness) programs."

The company offers fitness programs for all ages, including toddlers.

"Our philosophy is if you can walk, you can jump," Platt said.

The company has attempted to neutralize the two most dangerous aspects of the sport - the lack of supervision and the injuries that can result from falling off the trampoline or through its springs.

Employees closely supervise trampoliners to ensure no one breaks any rules - or bones.

And the trampolines are enclosed so its virtually impossible to fall off or through any of them.

Still, warning signs abound with trampoliners reminded constantly they do tricks at their own risk.

"The first time I did a flip I was a little scared," conceded the aptly named Amanda Hopper, 19, of Torrance, who was a cheerleader as a child. "But it comes back. It's just like riding a bike."

Rancho Palos Verdes resident Jill Allen, a mother of two daughters ages 9 and 7, was instantly impressed.

"We just booked Hanna's birthday party here because it's so much fun," she said. "They're trying it for the first time and loving it."

The party cost: about $200 for 20 kids - $10 a child - that includes an hour jump time, use of a game room and four pizzas with unlimited drinks.

It usually costs about $10 for a 30-minute trampoline session.

Corporate types don't have to feel left out, either; Sky Zone also hosts team-building sessions because, after all, there's nothing like smacking the boss in a dodgeball game.

Richard Del Pino skies for the basket at Sky Zone in Torrance, a newly opened trampoline gymnasium. Photo by Brad Graverson 3-29-12
Richard Del Pino skies for the basket at Sky Zone in Torrance, a newly opened trampoline gymnasium. Photo by Brad Graverson 3-29-12
 

Except, perhaps, reliving that long-vanished childhood.

"I still love jumping around and being a little kid," said the 19-year-old Pryor.

nick.green@dailybreeze.com

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