The new parkour course at Bounce makes me feel like Mario, Crash Bandicoot, Lara Croft and Tony Hawk (the cartoon version) within an hour. Parkour is a sport where people run, jump and flip over surfaces really quickly to get from A to B in the most creative way possible. I’m not parkour. I trip over slight changes in the footpath. My legs get tired waiting in line for lunch. Sometimes my arms ache when I lift a pint to my mouth. I had really low expectations of my physical ability to complete any part of the new Freerun Terrain Park at Bounce.
Trampolines line the floor and walls of Bounce in Glen Iris. It’s the place to have your party if you’re a kid; it’s the Wobbie’s World of today’s generation. There are seven in Australia so far, but this is the only one with the Freerun course. It has 14 different obstacles designed to test speed, agility, endurance and upper and lower body strength. It’s like the TV show AMazing*, but instead of monkeys with keys in their mouths there are four-metre walls to scale; and instead of James Sherry there’s Jamie Driver, a former action sportsman who helped design the course.
“Freerun incorporates elements of climbing, jumping and free running into one epic urban playground,” Driver says. “Currently there is no other place in the world that incorporates the elements we have at Freerun into the one venue.”
Driver tells me it’s really popular with parkour people, gymnasts, CrossFitters and younger teens with a heap of energy. I’ve never done a cartwheel but I have played Tony Hawk on Playstation a lot. I’ve got this.
There are trampolines incorporated into parts of the course. I launch myself onto a tiny trampoline and then onto a net, which turns into a rock-climbing wall. Then there’s a series of pink trampolines separated by foam walls. Jumping over them makes me feel like Crash Bandicoot when he gets extra bounce on the apple crates.
My favourite part has a trampoline in front of a 2.7-metre wall. Driver shows me how you get enough bounce and somehow effortlessly end up on top of the wall. I jump and get my shoulders up there, eventually managing to haul the rest of my body up, Tomb Raider-style. I feel like Lara Croft. I think the adrenaline has kicked in.
Remember the TV show Wipeout? There’s a part of the course with spinning rollers that you run across. I do it and feel superior to every American I’ve ever watched belly flop into the pool in defeat.
There are some bits that I flat out just can’t do, such as a 180-degree turn off a curved wall, or climb like Spiderman between two pieces of Perspex. Most of the obstacles have a hard way to complete them, but there’s also a semi-achievable option for people like me. Instead of running up a wall, you use a rope to climb up there.
My soft office hands feel like they’ve been kneading pizza dough made from live bees. I powder them with chalk in an attempt to stop the burn and also look like a pro in front of an eight-year-old. Two seconds later he proves he is much more talented on the Tarzan rings than me.
Outside of the Freerun course you can slam-dunk like in NBA ’97 and somersault into air-filled sacks that don’t hurt a bit. Because of the trampolines, Bounce allows you to do things you wouldn’t usually be able to do and it feels really good. Driver calls this the “euphoric rush of flight”. “You don’t have to be an athlete to get this feeling,” Driver says.
“You can jump within your limits, and just flip into the big bag and have a huge smile on your face. It triggers this incredible feeling of freedom.” As someone who spends 16 hours a day sitting down (I mix it up between office chair and couch) playing around at Bounce is satisfying on so many levels. It’s not mind numbing like the gym, works muscles you didn’t know you had and you get to defy your sedentary-as-hell body.
It makes me feel like I’m in Super Mario Brothers 3. I’m jumping around, from coin box to coin box with ease – sometimes even turning into that weird raccoon-tailed Mario and flying. Bouncing on the trampolines may actually even be easier than continuously hitting the A button.