Minnetonka’s Minnesota Twisters Trampoline and Tumbling Club

A local trampoline and tumbling facility jumps into the hearts of Minnetonka’s kids and adults.
Jenna McCarthy, 8, perfects her form on one of the trampolines at Minnesota Twisters in Minnetonka

At first glance, the sport of trampoline may seem like child’s play: a big bounce, a front flip and a twist mid-air. But Pat Henderson, owner and head coach of the Minnesota Twisters, says that trampoline is so much more accessible and beneficial than that. Spend some time in the Minnesota Twisters’ training facility, tucked away off of Baker Road and Highway 62, and you’ll soon see a wide range of participants, including members of the club’s competitive team, extreme-sport athletes using the gym for cross-training, and adults of all ages who want to maintain or regain their strength and flexibility. “Trampoline knows no weight or size,” says Henderson, who was introduced to the sport during her college days at South Dakota State University. She was immediately taken with it and has spent most of her life dedicated to training kids and adults in trampoline and tumbling. Her passion for the sport is undeniable, and it’s grounded in the many benefits that trampoline can provide all participants. “It improves circulation, oxygen uptake, flexibility and mood,” she says. “It’s great for depth perception and stabilizing your gait. But more than anything, it’s fun.”After  more than 30 years of coaching the Minnesota Twisters, Henderson has seen much success locally, nationally and internationally. Henderson is the only American who has judged trampoline in the Olympics;  in 2009, she was inducted into the U.S. Gymnastics Hall of Fame. Her son, whom she trained, performed in a Cirque du Soleil act, and she has also coached athletes in the U.S. Olympic trials for trampoline and tumbling, in addition to coaching many competitive divers, aerial skiers and cheerleaders who seek out the Minnesota Twisters to cross-train for their sports.But even though Minnesota Twisters has seen many elite athletes pass through its doors over the years, the heart of the organization lies in its kids’ beginning and intermediate classes, as well as with the adult students. A teacher at heart, Henderson works with anyone who wants to try trampoline.Kids from pre-school to high school make up the bulk of the Minnesota Twisters clientele. The beginner classes meet once or twice a week for an hour each, geared toward ages 5 to 18. The intermediate class, for middle school and high school students, meets twice a week. In addition to the classes, Minnesota Twisters sponsors a competition team. Like the gym, the competition team has been in the Minnetonka area since 1983. Team members compete in four events: the double-mini, tumbling, individual trampoline and synchronized trampoline. The competition season runs from September to July, with about one competition occurring a month.The Minnesota Twisters also offer personal training, extreme sport and small group adult fitness classes. And with six different trampolines, a harness system and a weight-training facility, the gym offers a safe, accessible workout even for those who might have limited mobility. Henderson describes an elderly woman who relied on a walker when she first came to Minnesota Twisters, but after two years of work on the trampoline, the woman could get up from the floor without much assistance. “Your feet still work, but you’ve got to work them,” says Henderson, and she believes that an individualized trampolining program allows people to do just that.Over the years, the gym has seen some of its members compete against the best of the best in the United States; in fact, the Minnesota Twisters’ assistant coach, Kim Salant, a former Minnesota Twister competitor and student of Henderson’s, placed fourth at the 2004 U.S. Olympic trials in trampoline. Since then, Salant has gone on to receive her bachelor’s degree in bio-engineering and master’s degree in electrical engineering; Henderson says that level of academic and professional success is common for her students. Trampoline helps kids find focus, which manifests in success in other areas of their lives, says Henderson. That success, both on and off the trampoline, fuels Henderson’s love for the sport.“I’m always after more information,” says Henderson. “I’m always learning from the kids.”