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The wAIRhouse hopes to help kids, parents find fun ways to get fit
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Just off the freeway on 500 West, hidden among industrial buildings and construction supply houses, is what feels like an old-fashioned mom-and-pop store. At the front desk, you'll be greeted by "Chief Fun Officer" Kelly Steele, and you'll watch a safety video starring one of her children.

This is the wAIRhouse, the first trampoline park in the city and the culmination of a dream for the Steele family. After a year of RVing around the country and visiting 26 states, Chris and Kelly Steele, along with their sons, Keegan and Collin, eventually settled in Park City. The Steeles were attracted to Utah's outdoor lifestyle, its overall friendliness and its fiscally conservative ideals.

"This is one of the best-kept secrets in the country," Chris said. "It has a great family focus­—there's so many things to do."

Kelly Steele, who grew up near Buffalo, N.Y., agrees.

"Within 10 minutes, there's almost everything for a kid to do that they can ever imagine," she said. "I didn't grow up with those same opportunities. It's just gorgeous."

From the beginning, Chris Steele noticed something in Utah he didn't see anywhere else—a deep commitment to fitness. On a trip to the local gym on Thanksgiving morning, he witnessed a packed house preparing for a day filled with gravy and stuffing. For the couple, a trampoline park felt like the perfect fit for a city with big families and a need for indoor activities during cold winters and hot, inversion-heavy summers. The wAIRhouse was born.

Converting an industrial building wasn't easy. The previous occupant, Zoltek, developed and manufactured carbon fibers on the property. It was unpainted, unpolished and filled with heavy machinery. The Steeles, entrepreneurs who are no strangers to renovating old properties, admitted this was the hardest renovation they've ever done.

"It was just an old, nasty warehouse," Chris Steele said.

"We had to do everything, from painting the ceiling to painting all the walls," Kelly Steele added. "We had to redo all the floors and pay for a lot of electrical work. We had to bring it up to code and go beyond that. Safety is so important to us, and it took a lot of time and effort to make this place feel safe."

Inside, there is no trace of the old, nasty warehouse left.

Upstairs offices are now party rooms and, soon, a meeting area for a chess club. The trampoline park boasts slam-dunk areas, dodgeball courts and foam pits that film families' graceful—or sometimes less-than-graceful—plummets.

Most important, the couple say the wAIRhouse has the largest area in the country for small children only, an addition the Steeles feel will help make sure safety remains paramount.

The couple traveled the country visiting trampoline parks. For most, it was a matter of installing the trampolines, putting a teenager at the front desk and collecting the cash. The Steeles believe it's their approach to bygone customer service that makes the wAIRhouse stand out.

"We're here around the clock, and we want to be here," Chris Steele said. "We want to walk around and ask people if there's anything we can do for them. We want people to be blown away, and, in most cases, that's what they say when they walk out the door."

closeup@sltrib.com

Twitter: @sltribCity —

At a glance

The wAIRhouse, 3653 S. 500 West, is Salt Lake City's first trampoline park.

The facility has more than 15,000 square feet of trampoline space, an arcade area and a cafe.

Along with free jump times, the wAIRhouse has scheduled "airobics" classes for kids, adults and baby boomers.

Steele family • The owners stress safety and customer service at their trampoline park.
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