When I was growing up my parents stuffed my schedule full of piano lessons, sports practices, and dance classes. I loved most of it, but I assume it was more in an effort to entertain me and give them several hours a week of peace than of finding my true calling.
But the world changes, and a new trend is slowly emerging not only in Seattle, but nationwide. That trend is WAY COOLER than piano lessons: indoor skydiving.
If you’ve gone to or from the airport or shopped at Southcenter recently, you’ve seen the huge red building with iFly written alongside it. That, my friends, is Seattle’s own indoor skydiving experience, iFly Seattle, which currently boasts the fastest vertical wind tunnel in the world.
But it’s not just daredevils and adrenaline junkies signing up to fly.
“The largest group we’re serving right now is kids and families,” said Lysa Adams, who owns iFly Seattle with her husband Bill.
That’s right. More specifically, twice a week kids ages six to twelve are (safely) hurtling through the air in the Little Ninjas and Little Jets classes that iFly offers.
Bo Lund has been taking his daughters Nisa (8) and Lara (10), to iFly classes for about nine months now.
“I used to be a skydiver,” said Lund. “So it’s in their blood.”
When Lund lost his wife, the idea of skydiving popped up in an effort to find a family-friendly activity to spend more time together.
“They weren’t scared, and still aren’t,” said Lund. “It’s all about what you bring to it as a parent. If they see you making a big deal out of it, they’ll think it’s a big deal.”
Sure enough, Nisa and Lara are flying away in the tunnel behind us as we’re talking, huge beaming smiles on their faces, and not a trace of fear in sight.
It helps that highly trained and accredited iFly staff members are in the tunnel with the Little Ninjas and Jets at all times, and the flying suits the kids wear have handles the staff can literally grab hold of to keep them under control. There is also always a technician operating the wind speed (about 88 mph for kids, 120 mph for adults).
“I’m thinking further ahead than just a hobby,” said Michael Diamante, whose son Elijah (8) has been flying with the Ninjas since December. “He could become a trainer here! It's only a matter of time before this becomes a real sport."
For the Diamante family, iFly was originally a Christmas present that quickly turned into a twice-a-week activity. It’s a common phenomenon.
“We call it the gateway drug,” said Adams. “Because indoor skydiving usually leads to the real deal.”
Both Diamante and Lund acknowledge that it’s an expensive hobby to have for your kids.
“This is their hobby, this is their extracurricular activity,” said Lund. “Instead of piano lessons, instead of soccer teams, they do this. And I have to tell you, as a parent, it way beats sitting on the sidelines of a field, cold and wet every Saturday morning.”
The Little Ninjas (for returning flyers) series costs $39.95 per week, or $150 for the month. It runs Thursday nights from 7-7:30 p.m., and is for kids 6-12. The Little Jets (for new flyers) is the same cost and time, but on Wednesdays.
So think about it. Are you getting tired of sitting on the sidelines of your child’s soccer game? Don’t think you can handle one more second of drum practice? It just may be time to take a look at indoor skydiving.