I already mentioned my Fantastic Four crew and I had a fantastic time at the Oxygen Freejumping launch night last week. What made it extra special, was the opportunity to speak to the CEO and VIP’s that were attending that evening. I really wanted to share our chats, in the hope that maybe just one of the things I mention will inspire you the way they inspired me.
Interview 1: Sebastien Foucan
Free running founder and James Bond star
Sebastien was probably one of the most charismatic people I have spoken to in a very long time! If you get the opportunity to meet him, you really should make the most of your time. His hypnotic french accent and enthusiasm is infectious, I couldn’t think of a better ambassador for this brand!
What does freerunning mean to you?
One word, freedom. We are born to be free. As kids we did it without even realising it, climbing, swinging, jumping all these things and more. We had no fear and we tried everything. Freerunning is like trying to train ourselves to go back to that mindset. It’s about finding freedom through play and expression and encouraging people to use the environment around them.
How did it all start?
It all came from my childhood days, from playing with friends. We never really create anything, we are simply influenced. I was a big fan of icons such as Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Indiana Jones, Manga, MMA and it was a combination of this with my own curiosity to explore my surroundings and connect with them that created freerunning.
That’s the key element I want to instil throughout, to people who come to Oxygen to play or join the Academy, I want to encourage them to have an open mind, be curious!
What made you get involved with Oxygen Freejumping?
Oxygen freejumping provides a safe area to do exactly what we just discussed. It allows people of all ages to be free. It’s an indoor playground. Once I heard their ethos of getting kids more active, more involved more free I wanted to be involved. It gives me the opportunity to teach the skills I learnt when exploring my sport.
How will you be combining freerunning with activities here?
Qualified coaches will be running the Foucan Freerunning Academies here. It’s quite scary and intimidating being an ambassador to the brand. It’s my job to show people the sport of freerunning is accessible. This will be done through learning planned routines starting from basic movements and moving onto advanced.
A lot of people head straight to Youtube and then go out and trial it without thinking. But this isn’t the right way to approach it. Freerunning takes discipline, and we want to help people learn the right skills to help them.
So I’m pretty sure you get asked this all the time, but how cool was it being in James Bond?
Being in James Bond was without a doubt the highlight of my career. It was like – (only an emoji could capture the expression Sebastien gave us when there were no words). Acting is something I really enjoy, it’s something I want to do more of. I love collaborating with people on projects, independent films. Working with people you can bounce off and really grow with.
Interview 2: Kat Driscoll
2012 Olympian and Double World Champion Gymnast
I have never met an Olympian before, but I’m pretty sure Kat is one the sweetest ones. Having been on the National team since she was 11, Kat is a dedicated sportswoman and dreams of one day opening her own trampolining centre. She plans to coach and help bring people up to International level, but for now, her time and energy is focused on Rio.
When did you first get into trampolining?
I was quite late into it actually, I was seven when I first started. My parents both worked full time so I spent a lot of my time at the leisure centre and trampolining was one of the sports they did.
The coach saw something in me and advised my parents to get me to join the club. That was that really.
Do you think places like this will mean more interest? More people wanting to get involved?
I think so. More people will be able to have regular access, especially if this becomes a destination point. I think it will get a lot more people interested in watching the sport for sure.
If you hadn’t got into professional trampolining, what do you think you’d be doing?
I can’t imagine doing anything else, I’ve always loved sport. But I think before I thought I could make a career out of this the only other thing I wanted to do was be a primary school teacher.
Olympics, August this year! Whats the deal? With competitions that important, how do you deal with nerves?
Well, there’s still a few months to go and even though most countries have already named their athletes going into it, we’re one of the last to select teams!
Nerves have never really been a big thing, I find training sometimes a lot more nerve-racking. I’ve always preferred the competition. I figure you’ve got 39 seconds to show people how good you are, so you just have to do it.
What’s your favourite part of the park?
The volleyball section is probably my favourite bit!
Of course the blogger in me had to ask this question – Fingers crossed you’re heading to Rio this year and I see you are blogging about your journey! How are you finding blogging?
Ooh it’s really hard work! I’ve not been very good at keeping it updated, it’s quite hard in between all the training. But I do hope to get into it a bit more now that Rio is getting closer.
Interview 3: David Stalker
CEO of Oxygen, former CEO of UKactive
If you’ve read my blog before, you know there’s always some part of a post where I have to stick in an honesty statement that is a wee bit controversial. So here it is… before we sat down to have a chat with David, knowing he was the CEO, I expected him to be a stereotypical all-about-the-money kind of business man. Happy to say I couldn’t have been more wrong. David showed just as much passion and enthusiasm as the kids bouncing around him, and as the former CEO of UKactive, he definitely assured my confidence in the direction of this brand.
So David, straight to the point, there are a number of trampoline parks already in Manchester, how are you planning on making your mark?
There is definitely enough business out there for everyone. Our concept is slightly different here. We’re trying to create an all around day out. Somewhere that everyone can come to and spend time, even if they’re just watching, we want the experience to be enjoyable which is why it was important to have good facilities such as the cafe and viewing gallery.
In my last job we were successful in getting people active, I left there wanting to find something that still got people moving but in an enjoyable way. The staff play a big part in that here. We want every hour to be treated like a new show, and the staff, well they’re part of the cast. They are just as important as the trampolines. We want them to get involved and help encourage customers.
Whats so special about being in Trafford Quays Leisure Village?
When we were headed for Manchester and this spot near the Trafford Centre came up, we knew it would be perfect. It’s the right city. Trafford Quays Leisure Village has a lot of varied activities, it’s a great destination place for people to head to. They could easily spend a whole day here with everything thats available to them.
We can see from being here and from talking to the other two VIP’s a lot of effort has been made to get kids active and involved. Are you planning on running any adults only sessions? Like the morning rave type sessions?
Oh definitely. The development will take about a year for the park to reach most of its potential. We’ve started off with the kids and then we’ll slowly start to introduce things like the dodgeball sessions. We’ll then bring in the fitness and eventually it’ll lead onto to the adults only slots, all in good time.
What’s your favourite part of the park?
So hard not to love the Airbag, you can just fall into it.
My favourite session is the Little O’s though. They’re the mum and toddler sessions, I mean the kids are so small most can’t even walk yet! They just sit in the middle whilst the mums help create the bounce, and they love it! It’s pretty great for me too, they don’t do any damage and we’ve started them off early 😉
What do you see for the future of Oxygen Manchester?
Manchester is going to be a one for firsts. It’s the first one to have the volleyball pitch. And we already have exciting plans for another brand new area, a survival assault course type endeavour, partnering with another famous face… it’s very exciting and it’s headed here first! So watch this space.
*** Thank you to Sebastien, Kat and David for sparing some time to talk to us that evening ***
Sebastien – Can’t wait to see you’re next big screen debut!
Kat – we have everything crossed for you for this years Olympics! #TeamGB !!!
David – Really looking forward to many, many future visits to Oxygen!
To mark the jump to the next level after signing its tenth trampoline park, Oxygen also announced the WE ARE TEN campaign. A campaign celebrating them becoming the largest trampoline park operator in the UK.
All the way up until the 10th July, you can bring a friend for FREE using promo code: FRIEND50. Click here to book.
Oxygen is also looking to support 10 charities in Manchester as part of the campaign. That’s always a great way to spring into business (cheap shot. couldn’t help it.)
Have you been to an Oxygen Freejumping park yet? What’s your favourite bit?