It was becoming increasingly difficult to concentrate on the conversation I was having. Apologies, Marion, but the spectacle in my peripheral vision was too enticing. Without warning, a figure soared to a height exceeding 20ft, executed the splits in mid-air, semi-twisted on the descent and, with legs gracefully outstretched, plunged onto the mat in a sitting position without a care in the world. Another figure scaled still greater heights, his ascent magnificently amplified by the line of mirrors in the Dance Studio, before flipping twice at the zenith and dropping gracefully onto the bed. “Oh, they’re just going through their warm-up routines,” I’m told casually. Strewth.
Marion Nutter, President of the University of York Trampolining Club, surveys the chaotic scene. It’s hard not to be taken in my this little club, who meet almost covertly in this windowless, dimly-lit nook of the Sports Centre four times a week for a bounce and some banter. Given the obstacles they have faced this year, it’s a wonder they’re here at all.
“We had made the travel arrangements for Nottingham; all the train tickets were booked,” Nutter said. “Three days before the competition – remember this was the BUCS Nationals, the highlight of our year – we found out we were in a different region and we had to go to Edinburgh instead. Someone at York Sport hadn’t relayed the message.”
And so they missed out, through a mix-up in communications. What’s more, getting to Nottingham had swallowed most of their yearly budget, meaning plans to invest in coach training and new equipment were shelved. It’s tough being a small fish.
Yet the club are remarkably relaxed about the situation, buoyed perhaps by pride in their performance at Roses the other week. “We had six competitors. Then, Lancaster rolled up with 24. We only finished two points behind in the end. You can understand why I’m so proud of everyone,” beamed Nutter, one of the few first-year Presidents.
Everyone performed two routines, tailored to their abilities across three categories: novice, intermediate and advanced. Within each routine, ten moves were selected from a vast catalogue of possibilities, all of which demand an awareness of your body’s limits not necessary in many sports. I attempt some of the beginner’s moves: the seat drop, the half-twist, even the full twist, but God obviously economised on the athletic grace when he created Adam Shergold.
Yet, even this five minute taster of a sport which uniquely fuses together aspects of dance, gymnastics and ballet was enormous fun, an unexpected liberation. It takes no time at all to learn the basics, especially in this small club environment, where tuition from dedicated, volunteer coaches is tailored, progressive and pretty much one-on-one. The evolution through the various ability levels is at your own pace, and evident on my visit. Beginners, acquainted with a trampoline for mere days and weeks, race through the manoeuvres they have learned, encouraged by the tutoring and the safety of the crash mats. Feet away, the more advanced take full advantage of ropes and harnesses, suspended from the ceiling, to hone their flipping and somersaulting skills, encouraged by friendly fellow members. Alongside them, the well-practiced fine tune skilled routines for the sprinkling of friendly tournaments York take part in throughout the year, demonstrating an array of aerobic moves with consummate ease and elegance. However, as I’m regularly reminded, they too have started from scratch, and not as long ago as some might think.
Towards the end of the two hours, some members attempt the holy grail of trampolining: the perfectly synchronised routine. Their efforts collapse in fits of giggles, but it’s another example of the enjoyment everyone here feels, manifested further in the club’s all-action socials (bowling, swimming, karting – all this year) four times each term.
I give you trampolining then. More exciting than yoga, more fun than aerobics – yet possessing all the leg-toning, arm-stretching, life-affirming qualities. All for £1.50 a session. Why not take advantage of the reduced York Sport membership at the moment and give it a try?
The University of York trampolining club meet four times a week in the Dance Studio (inside the Sports Centre): Wednesday 8pm-10pm, Thursday 8pm-10pm, Saturday 11am-1pm and Sunday 8pm-10pm. Everyone is welcome, regardless of previous experience. Further information available by contacting [email protected]