Indoor Inflatable Park Scores A+ on Alberta Physical Education Curriculum Requirements
“Wow… just wow!”
“These things are massive and so cool!”
“This is so much fun… and what a workout!”
“I’ve always wanted to try a challenge like this!”
“Everyone is going to sleep like a baby tonight!”
These are just some of the comments I heard while enjoying a visit to a local indoor inflatable park with my children. In addition to comments like this, I also noticed something unusual at a “kid’s play place…” the laughter, squeals and screams were not just coming from the kids. Entire families and groups of friends, teens and adults… not just kids were all… playing… together. They were all challenging each other. They were all running together, sweating together, laughing together, competing against each other and teaming up, brothers against sisters, moms against dads, kids against parents. No matter what the team makeup was, physical activity and fun was ensuing. Families were experiencing things and trying things together that no other environment provides. No one was on their phone, mindlessly scrolling social media but almost everyone had their devices out filming the experience and photographing some amazing images.
Attractions in this gigantic place included 25+ unique physical challenges that involved every muscle in everyone’s body. Not only are the attractions physically demanding and fun, they also inspire creativity and cause visual and emotional excitement. All of this got me thinking, “What a great place to have a FIELD TRIP or PE CLASS!” Being a certified fitness trainer and a new home school mom with 4 kids from Kindergarten to Grade 6, I recognized that something special was happening in this facility. Having recently organized my children’s Schedule of Outcomes Program Plan, based on the Alberta Education Guidelines, it hit me like a ton of bricks, this place should get an A+! In reviewing the Alberta Government’s Program Rationale and Philosophy, I came to realize that this inflatable park was the perfect location to accomplish all the outcomes of a Physical Education Curriculum.
The goal of the Kindergarten to Grade 12 PE program in Alberta is, “to enable individuals to develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to lead an active, healthy lifestyle.” This is all based around children learning to create a positive future for themselves and at the same time, enhancing their quality of life. In addition, the physical education program is to emphasize enjoyable participation that will foster a desire in students to participate in lifelong physical activity. What’s most exciting is that not only were the children experiencing a facility that answered all those requirements, but I also noticed the other family members and friends, of all ages, being re-invigorated and enjoying physical activity!
With so many opportunities for differing types of physical fitness throughout the facility it was a challenge to really make note of all the health benefits and unique endeavours so I decided to highlight a few of the most popular attractions that we enjoyed. Some of our favourite attractions included…
The Big Red Balls – Similar to one of the challenges on the hit show, “Wipe Out,” challengers are required to jump across 4 giant red balls without falling into the inflated air bags surrounding them. Sounds easy enough… but we very quickly learned that it’s not as we thought. Talk about SKILL DEVELOPMENT as this single attraction resulted in 30 minutes of entertainment… which secretly snuck in an exhausting workout that included learning to… climb, jump, balance, calculate timing and distance, and of course… learning how to wipe out, gracefully. Be warned… it takes at least a few attempts to get the graceful part down, but the kids sure had a laugh as mom wiped out a few times more than they did. In addition to the physical aspects of the game, the children all had a blast competing and challenging each other to see who could do it the fastest. I was just happy to make it across after a few attempts without the kids filming any of it.
The Leap of Faith – “Jumping off a 15-foot high cliff is so much fun,” is something I didn’t think I’d ever say. Landing in a giant inflated “stuntman” bag sure made it more enjoyable. Kids and adults alike are encouraged to face their fears and push themselves outside their comfort zones, by trying something that makes their heart race. One of the key beliefs of the Alberta PE Curriculum is using “physical activity as a strategy for managing life challenges” and to build, “Self-Confidence and Self-Esteem.” Watching person after person face their fears, climb the mountain and then stand at the edge of the cliff was exciting. You could see a range of emotions flood these people as they calculated the risk and eventually (in some cases up to 10 minutes) they would… jump! The thrill of accomplishing the goal was immediately evident on their face, as they climbed out of the bag… ALIVE and with a new level of self-worth and confidence. Achieving success like this is something everyone should have the opportunity to relish in and resulted in almost every single person making the trek back up the mountain for another jump with a fresh love of a goal successfully achieved.
The Obstacle Courses – There were multiple styles of obstacle courses in this indoor inflatable park and all of them involved different challenges. There was a life-sized fire truck themed one, a giant figure-8 rat race themed one and vertical obstacle course with a monster gorilla theme. All of them required that people use parts of their bodies they likely forgot about. We had to climb things, squeeze through certain elements, sway back and forth through other elements, crawl, jump, slide, run and more. Truly, these courses provided experiences from all movement dimensions. All the obstacle courses involved friendly competition in a situation that allowed for elements of risk and challenge, growth and achievement, and all provided in a safe environment.
The Meltdown – Featured on many hilarious “YouTube” videos and on the TV show “Ellen,” this attraction offered a workout that is almost beyond compare. Imagine standing on one of 8 available platforms as 2 swinging padded arms of varying heights are spun around toward you forcing you to either jump or duck to avoid being knocked off the attraction. It sounds fun, for sure… but the physical demands of this attraction were unbelievable! Everyone does “burpies,” in the gym at school but this game takes it to a whole new level of extreme exercise and incredible fun! What’s even greater is that it can be operated anywhere between very slow to quite fast, to allow for a diverse range of skills and abilities. In the end, the competitors either give in to the exhaustion and step off the platform or they are (not so gently) removed from the platform by one of the rotating arms. No matter the outcome of the competition, every competitor achieves a similar result, being… healthy, interactive, competitive, challenging and silly fun, which makes kids want to come back over and over always seeking to beat their previous “best!”
The Inflated Stadium – Interestingly, this facility also offered a huge multi-sport stadium, that allowed for children and families to choose their desired activity and either play alone or with a group. The sports lovers were able to choose, basketball, soccer, volleyball, dodgeball, and other activities. With the staff’s involvement, the arena was also used for other activities and games, including types of gymnastics, dance competitions and other games. The best part of this attraction is that none of us realized that the fun we were having was actually an amazing workout.
After a few hours enjoying this facility, I came to realize that one of the key aspects as to why this inflatable park should be a part of every school field trip and PE curriculum was exactly that… fun but a rewarding, physically demanding educational experience. Like ours, other families were demonstrating exactly the purpose of the PE Curriculum in Alberta… A lifelong interest in physical education! Learning truly can be a ton of fun and this indoor inflatable park proves that over and over. As I write this, I’m hopeful that the local school systems read this article and begin introducing children to these types of facilities.