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“Would you like to learn how to do a backflip?”

“Would you like to learn how to do a backflip?”

Photographer:Fotograaf: Loraine Bodewes

(Wo)man at work: Jump master at Space Jump Maastricht

Emilie Wildschutz / 22 / third-year student in the Maastricht Science Programme / earns 9.84 euros gross per hour

Two legs stick out of a large pit filled with foam cubes, displaying blue non-slip socks in approximately size 35. Jump master Emilie Wildschutz briefly breaks off her conversation with the Observant journalist to tell the boy he isn’t allowed to jump head first into the foam pit.

We’re in indoor trampoline park Space Jump Maastricht. Making sure customers adhere to the safety rules is an important part of Wildschutz’s job. Running isn’t allowed either, for example. “That’s usually a difficult rule to enforce, as children get very enthusiastic. It’s not very busy on a Tuesday afternoon like today, but eighty kids running around here at the weekend would be an accident waiting to happen.”

Wildschutz also frequently operates the “Sweeper”, a kind of cage containing trampolines and two inflatable, rotating arms that sweep people off their feet if they don’t jump in time or high enough. “There must always be someone present to turn off the machine if someone has a nasty fall or wants to get out. And to make sure everyone in the cage stays on the same trampoline: if they keep changing trampolines, they’ll crash into each other. Any injuries are usually ankle or knee related; the same goes for the other trampolines. But people are usually jumping again before I’ve gone to get some ice. It always looks worse than it is.”

You’d think only children come here, “but that’s certainly not the case”, says Wildschutz. “We regularly host staff parties in the dodgeball zone and I teach trampoline workout ­classes – “jumping fitness” – in the evenings.” There are a few adults jumping around in the free zone on this weekday afternoon, too.

BANG! On a beam above the foam pit, two little boys attack each other with so-called fight cushions. Wildschutz: “I’ll just go see if everything’s all right”. A smiling face emerges from the foam cubes. Everything’s fine. Again.

“I saw the job advertisement on Facebook and was immediately interested because of my background.” At home in Luxembourg, Wildschutz worked as a trainer at a gymnastics club. “That’s why she was a perfect fit for the job”, says manager Mark Ploemen. Teaching trampoline jumpers in Maastricht how to do (backward) somersaults and other tricks comes naturally to her. Her background in gymnastics also comes in handy at children’s parties. “Kids love it when I do a few backflips on the Airtrack” (a ten-metre-long inflatable structure).

She’s working from two to nine today. “We open at two thirty. Before that time, I get everything ready: turn on the ventilation system, vacuum-clean the trampolines and inflate the Airtrack and the Sweeper.” Balancing her job and her studies isn’t a problem. “We indicate our availability online, after which shifts are assigned. I’m not currently in any tutorial groups and I’m working on a project, so I’ve got more time to work.”

Does she struggle with the language? Right at that moment, a mother approaches Wildschutz with her son: “Moog ich get vroage? Mogen veer doarin?” She points to the Sweeper. “Yes, you may”, replies Wildschutz in Dutch. “Limburgish is difficult, but I do understand Dutch. Most people speak English. And it’s astonishing how well little kids understand me.” She also knows how to say the most important things in Dutch: “No running allowed”, “Would you like to learn how to do a backflip?” and “Are you all right?”. Wildschutz: “Fortunately, fitness classes are taught in English.”

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