Imagine a massive space where you can free-fly, free-ball and free-run your way to happiness, regardless of how old your identification card says you are. Brought to you by a group of four friends who call themselves Do Stuff Collective, the country now has its very first indoor trampoline park. Anith Adilah Othman speaks with the young creatives behind Fly Phnom Penh.
The idea was birthed during a casual conversation over dinner. One of the founders, Mark Huang, 36, from the Philippines, said after residing in the Kingdom for over four years, he was starting to run out of fun things to do.
“Every weekend, or even on weekdays when there is less work for us, we don’t know where to go. Things to do are very limited. Unlike when I was in the Philippines or in China where I lived for 11 years, there was always something going on,” he told Good Times2.
“So we were just having dinner and talking about potential entertainment that we could bring in. We mulled with the idea of a virtual reality center with untethered devices for an immersive experience, but the setup cost does not make much financial sense.”
That was when Malaysian-born Pern Chen, 36, and Cambodian Kobe Khy, 31, chimed in with: “Have you been to this trampoline arena in Thailand called Bounce?”
Huang said upon looking it up online, he was almost sold on the idea. But he had one concern: none of the trio has had any experience in setting up an indoor center dedicated solely to trampoline-related activities.
“The trampoline park looked cool but we have zero expertise on this and then, just like that, a lightbulb went off in our heads and we thought of G,” he said, referring to their friend, New Zealander Galeno Chua, 33, who was one of the brains behind Bounce.
Without further convincing needed, Chua immediately agreed, stressing that there was a need for Phnom Penh to have a form of entertainment that merges fitness and fun.
“It was kind of missing in the market. People are craving for something to do during the day or the weekends where they can also spend time with family and friends. We were looking at creating a space where everybody can come and enjoy themselves, especially adults, because all adults do in Phnom Penh is either go out for drinks, karaoke or hit the mall,” he said.
The idea made sense as the boys of the Do Stuff Collective share one main commonality – they are all self-professed adrenaline junkies who just love to get sweaty. And just like that, Fly Phnom Penh became one of the tenants of the city’s latest creative hub Factory Phnom Penh, located on National Road 2.
True to its name, this is the one place in the Kingdom where you can actually fly. The main arena consists of multiple trampolines, an obstacle course, two Olympic-grade mats, a one-on-one zone, basketball hoops, a velcro wall, angled walls and a special area for dodgeballs.
The mezzanine floor is divided into two sections: an open seating area for non-participating guests and a fully air-conditioned function room, complete with a projector and a secret door dubbed the ‘Door to Freedom’ that allows guests to run and free-fall onto airbags that await below. In fact, it is very much encouraged for guests to let go of any inhibitions and reimagine themselves as action flick heroes for a second.
If you walk into Fly on the weekends, it is highly likely to bump into one of the founders, either handing out high-fives to their child patrons at the entrance or jumping along to the beat of the catchy tunes in the arena.
“We know that some adults have reservations about jumping on a trampoline. They might feel like it’s out of character for an adult to do so. In fact, about six out of 10 adults who come here with their children would not start to jump unless they see another adult in the arena.
“That is why we encourage our trainers to set exemplary fun for other adults. The four of us are always traveling but whenever we have the chance, we will be here too. We would join in on the fun by jumping around or handing out fist-bumps,” Chua said.
If you are slightly on the overweight side, fret not, the trampolines can take up to 150kg, according to the boys.
“The weight limit is set at 150kg because when you jump, you would carry your normal weight but when you land, you would carry three times the weight. To be on the safe side, there is a limit,” Chua said.
“You can also feel like a kid again, which is wonderful…and there is also the exercise element in it,” Huang, who is also a fitness enthusiast, chimed in with a smile.
According to Fly Phnom Penh, trampolining is one of the best ways to get both your cardiovascular and lymphatic system pumping in less than five minutes and it is also three times more efficient than jogging.
Chua, who has dabbled in several entertainment centers across the globe, added that this could be the solution for the lack of good running grounds or conducive workout environments in the city.
“It is also a low-impact activity as opposed to running or jogging. I mean in Phnom Penh, you would have to run on concrete as there is really nowhere to run. Come to Fly and we will teach you how to make the most out of this fitness fun,” he said.
At Fly Phnom Penh, safety is taken seriously. With close to 20 trainers available to assist patrons, a 10-minute safety briefing is given prior to entering the arena. This, of course, includes the basic do’s and don’ts.
“We are quite confident of our processes. We do spot checks on all our trainers. We come in randomly to observe how things work and we also send in our friends to test out the safety training.
“Our trainers are trained to assess a patron just from how he or she looks physically. If they tell you that you need to sit down and rest for two minutes, there is no other way to go about it. You must listen. You get injured easily when you are tired, especially when you are in the air flopping around, as you just might land wrong,” Chua explained.
Those interested in incorporating varieties into their exercise regimen can also check out Fly Fitness, available every Wednesday at 7pm. Uniquely tailored for adults, this could be the future of fitness.
“Imagine an hour of sprint class, but on a trampoline. It is something in a much more dynamic location, easier on your joints and it is also super cardio as you’re basically activating all your different muscle groups when you are on it,” Chua said.
He added that one of the best parts about Fly Fitness is it allows patrons to pick up several different skill sets as the routine would involve multiple activities at once. They could involve the basketball hoops, the angled walls or even the Olympic-grade mats.
“We throw in some games as well. It is really fun. Everyone should try it,” they collectively said.