So you’ve finally succumbed to the temptation of getting a trampoline for lots of backyard fun? Good for you! You’re in for a treat. Some parents also see the trampoline as a great way to entertain the kiddies, while more serious-minded folks use these things for exercise. Regardless of its purpose, these devices are fun.
It’s also fun to contemplate the history of trampolines. And on that note, here are some fascinating trivia to contemplate while you’re up in the air or catching your breath:
- The inventor of the trampoline is George Nissen of Iowa (1914-2010), who was a gymnast and diver in high school when he saw circus acrobats and was fascinated. In 1934, he developed his first practical model using strips of inner-tube rubber. He was a 20-year old University of Iowa student at the time, and he was assisted by his swimming coach and the school of engineering.
- He tested the device for usefulness at a YMCA summer swimming camp. He knows his bouncer was going to be a hit when the people there clamored to use it and “nobody wanted to go swimming” as Nissen recounted in an interview.
- Nissen somersaulted through the US and Mexico, performing what was then dubbed as “rebound tumbling”. But he wanted a more memorable moniker, so he coined the name “trampoline” after the Spanish word “trampolin” which meant “springboard” or “diving board”.
- Despite having “trampoline” trademarked, it became the generic term for the device.
- Nissen went on a tour to publicize his invention, introducing it in 40 countries over 30 to 40 years after World War II. His most famous publicity shot is the one with him and the kangaroo up in the air.
- Nissen became a prolific inventor and he holds more than 40 patents. His other inventions include an inflatable seat cushion for fishing and hunting and padded bleacher seats which can fold up to create walls in the gym.
- Trampolining became a recognized sport, and it has been part of the Olympic Games since 2000. The events that involve the trampoline include trampolining, synchronized trampoline, double mini-trampoline, and tumbling.
- But it has been a sport around the world for some time, and the first world trampolining champions, Judy Wills Cline for women and Dan Millman for men, won their titles in 1964.
- In 1986, the Delta Epsilon fraternity of the Cleveland State University had a 6-man team that set a Guinness World Record for continuous bouncing. They took turns bouncing on the trampoline without pause for 53 days straight. After their momentous feat, they even had President Ronald Reagan call to congratulate them.
- There’s also a Guinness category for longest slam-dunk by a basketball player on a trampoline. Currently, this record is held by Jordan Ramos, a gymnast from Liverpool. In 2014, he was 19 years old when he used a trampoline to get him to fly 10 meters (32.8 feet) in the air to dunk a basketball through the ring. He beat his own previous record of 7.75 meters (25.4 feet).Watch the video here:
- There are actually many “world records” involving the trampoline. These include longest time jumping on one, most alternating bounders in 1 minute, longest time jumping while playing a ukulele, longest time to jump with a dog, most continuous, backflips, most continuous front flips…you get the idea.
- The trampoline has also been used for serious training. NASA and the Air Force have been known to use these devices for training their astronauts and pilots. It’s also been used to develop aerial awareness among US Naval Aviation cadets.
- It’s also a good way to exercise, as the springiness of the jumping surface reduces up to 80% of the stress to your weight-bearing joints. This means it’s an excellent alternative for seniors and for those who are still recovering from injuries.
- The biggest trampoline park in the world is in Bristol, England. Airhop Bristol measures 60,000 square feet, with 140 interconnected trampolines and a total of 177 trampolines.
- Some sports centers are now offering a variation that involves a bungee cord.
Have fun with these facts, and have fun with your trampoline!