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The Springfree Story: Told By the Inventor Himself

21 years after its introduction, Springfree Trampolines have become one of the premier trampolines on the market. Here are the stories behind the safest trampoline!

min read

The Springfree Story: Told By the Inventor Himself

21 years after its introduction, Springfree Trampolines have become one of the premier trampolines on the market due to their revolutionary springless design and industry-leading safety and quality features.   

What started as a side project for a reserved New Zealand engineer who wanted to build a safe trampoline for his daughter has turned into something he admits is well beyond his initial expectations. 

“My vision was to make about 40 of them a year in New Zealand to compete in the New Zealand market,” said Dr. Keith Alexander, the inventor of the Springfree Trampoline. “It wasn’t a very big vision.”  

Dr. Alexander started his springless trampoline invention in 1989 when his daughter, Katie, was two years old. Reflecting on the joy of jumping on a trampoline during his childhood, Dr. Alexander wanted the same for his daughter.  

His wife, Faith, didn’t necessarily share that same sentiment, though, and as Dr. Alexander begrudgingly admits, she was right: Trampolines were dangerous, and the numbers backed it up. 

As an engineer who had already built multiple products-- including walk-on-water shoes that won three contests in the 1980s, netting him over $1,000 each time--he felt an intrinsic desire to do something to change the narrative about trampolines.  

The Beginning  

The 1990s spurred multiple prototypes and ideas from Dr. Alexander, spanning from an innertube-style trampoline to a trampoline that resembled a big drum. All played some type of role in what the final Springfree Trampoline, the one you see now, looks like. 

A couple of Dr. Alexander’s prototypes from the 1990s: 

Three children on the first Springfree Trampoline prototype 

An early prototype of a Springfree Trampoline 

During this time, the Alexander yard was full of half-built prototypes that his kids enjoyed. It’s the little moments during this invention period that Dr. Alexander remembers the most. 

One night, when Dr. Alexander was tinkering with the rods of the trampoline, his daughter decided to have a little fun at his expense. 

“I had a trampoline in my backyard, and I had some levers and what I was trying to do was make the force really slowly so I can see what happened with the rods,” said Dr. Alexander.  

“I’m working away out there with a trampoline with two big planks of wood sticking out and I’m pulling away on the ends and heaving around and trying to get photos of them and I didn’t realize my daughter was sitting inside with a video camera and saying in a very cynical voice ‘This is what happens in our backyard,’ Dr. Alexander said with a smirk. “It was really quite cute.”  

For the Alexander family, this was a normal day in the life and they were plenty used to it. 

“This is what happens at our place,” said Dr. Alexander. “They didn’t realize it was unusual, it was just how things were. They knew it was important to Dad, so they enjoyed being a part of it.”   

The Big Breakthrough  

It was actually Dr. Alexander’s son, William, who was a part of one of the major “a-ha” moments with what the final Springfree Trampoline would become.  

After going through many different development cycles through the 1990s and early 2000s, Dr. Alexander was on the brink of a breakthrough. 

But there was one major problem: He was struggling to find a solution for why the composite rods, which were replacing the springs, kept popping out. 

The mat rod holders, or edge fittings, didn’t seem to be strong enough to hold the rods in place while someone was jumping. This was a major challenge at the time: If he couldn’t figure out the issue, the world’s safest trampoline might not have been possible. 

What the Springfree rods look like now: 

A close-up view of the Springfree Trampoline rods 

His son William, “the world expert at bouncing on the edge of the trampoline and making the rod come out,” was called  out of school one day in the early 2000s to test the new rods’ fortitude. Dr. Alexander had already gone through multiple edge fittings, the process of which cost thousands of dollars. 

But finally, to Dr. Alexander’s delight, and William’s dismay, the rods finally held in place—no matter how hard William tried. 

“He could not get {the rod} to pop out, he was so frustrated. But it was a big high point for me,” said Dr. Alexander. “The a-ha moment was actually we had done it and could go to market.”    

After a solution was found for the rods and the enclosure net was finished—another last hurdle  before they could go to market--, Springfree Trampolines were officially available for purchase at Costco in 2005. This was the first moment that Dr. Alexander realized his invention had “made it.” 

A Springfree Trampoline displayed in a Costco store in Quebec, Canada 

He also cited a time when William was in London attending school as a moment of epiphany about the globalization of his invention. 

“He sent me a photo from London and he’s on some back street in London somewhere and there were some cardboard boxes stuffed in a heap and they were Springfree Trampoline cardboard boxes,” said Dr. Alexander, which made him think, ‘Wow’, it’s hard to believe that Springfree’s were being enjoyed by children on the other side of the world.”    

The Growth of Springfree Trampoline 

Many other people helped catapult Springfree to the success they enjoy today. Chief among them is CBO (“Chief Bouncing Officer”) and Co-Founder Steve Holmes, who took a chance on Dr. Alexander’s invention when it was still in the inventing phase and was the primary driver behind its global growth.   

Holmes was primarily responsible for Springfree’s rise from a contemporary trampoline design to a fully-fledged, vertically integrated, global company that not only is a pioneer for its springless trampoline but also its manufacturing process. 

Currently, Springfree Trampoline is the only manufacturer to control its entire product life cycle, from initial design and manufacturing until it hits the consumer’s backyard.  

Because of this, Springfree Trampolines are the most rigorously tested trampolines in the industry, including their mats being tested to three million jumps. Every mat and net are individually assessed before they are packaged to ensure optimum quality.  

The intricate and methodical approach Springfree takes with its products contributes to how they continue to set the precedent for what a safe outdoor trampoline should look like and is an example of the company keeping up with the promise of Dr. Alexander’s vision to make “trampolines safer.” 

What Springfree Trampolines look like 21 years after they were introduced: 

A Springfree Trampoline in a yard with a white house in the background 

A little girl jumping on a Springfree Trampoline while her brother and mom play with a ball outside of it 

Reflecting on 21 Years of Springfree Trampoline 

When Dr. Alexander looks back 21 years later on his invention and its improbable rise to relevance, he still doesn’t quite know how to feel about it.   

“I’m surprised at how I feel too.” I feel that I’m just an ordinary person living an ordinary life,” said Dr. Alexander, who spent most of his professional career as an educator at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand.  

“And somehow or another there’s another part of me that’s taken off. I feel as though I’m just like anybody else, but I have this other life that every now and then I can step into.” 

That life includes contributing to the advancement of more stringent trampoline standards, which he says have worked in tandem with the Springfree Trampoline to make backyard trampolines safer for kids to jump on.  

That was the goal when Dr. Alexander first took a crack at building a safe trampoline for his daughter in 1989. Looking back on it, he’s most proud of all the trampoline injuries his work has helped prevent.  

“The objective was to reduce injuries on trampolines. And the Trampoline has helped that,” said Dr. Alexander. “I can do the sums and come up with a number that says this many kids are not going the hospital because of the trampoline and the standards work that went with it…”  

“I think that’s about my proudest moment, the most meaningful,” said Dr. Alexander.  

Springfree Trampoline continues to uphold the sentiment that was formulated by its founder decades ago. And for that, Springfree Trampolines are the most-awarded Trampolines on the market, recently claiming Parents' Picks Awards for 2024.

You can check out Springfree's Trampolines on their website.

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