The Story of Rebounding

An exclusive interview with Rebounder Godfather, Joachim Heymans.
Joachim Heymans
Owner of Trimilin
Joachim Heymans
Owner of Trimilin

In 1938 the first small trampoline (rebounder) was created by Ed Russell. Today there are no rebounders that can match the quality of the Trimilin made JUMPGA rebounder.

When were you introduced to rebounding?

In 1979, during my early twenties, I was visiting the UK looking to work out what I wanted to do with my life. A friend introduced me to a Vitalizer mini rebounder that he brought over from America but at first, I thought it was for kids. I was already into fitness and he said that I should incorporate it into my fitness routine.

 

Did it have an immediate effect?

I took it away to use and later that evening I developed a sore throat. It was May and I never usually catch colds, and then I realised it was a consequence of using the rebounder. It had an immediate impact on my internal system.

 

What made you buy one?

My friend said I should look at setting up a rebounder business and I was so convinced that I bought my first one.

Was it expensive?

The wholesale cost was not cheap, and I used half of my savings (£300 in today’s money). I had to get it back to Germany on the train and my then new wife was not happy that I spent half of our savings on a rebounder. I was the black sheep of the family because my parents wanted me to aim for a corporate life, but I just knew that this rebounder was my future.

 

What brand did you start with?

So, I began buying the Vitalizer rebounders from America after taking pre-order from friends, because I believed in them.  I would order 20-30 at a time, and in my first year I sold 280 units.

 

How long did you work with Vitalizer?

Not too long, because I kept getting negative feedback about the quality of the frame and springs, When I relayed that to the manufacturer they were not interested.

 

When did you venture alone?

It was in 1983 that I decided to do my own research – which was not easy at that time because there was no internet and no fax; just paper catalogues – if you were lucky!  I travelled to Taiwan, which was then an under-developed country and, to add to the pressure, I didn’t speak a single word of Taiwanese.

 

Was the quality better than Vitalizer?

Over the course of 2 to 3 years I purchased a few components to begin with, then entire units. Unfortunately, I was not able to work with them long term because their end products always had issues. Also, even when I supplied them with the American mats they used poor quality stitching, because they were always trying to cut costs.

 

What was your next move?

I moved production away from Taiwan to Germany, using the original American mats – made from a material originally used for road surfacing. The springs came from Australia – principally the same ones as we use today – we even had a machine made to test the spring quality, durability, and tension.  We also used special threads manufactured in Germany.  All this was a costly move, but it had to be done if I was going to stay in business.

 

What was your breakthrough moment?

By 1988 we were producing our own rebounders; made in Germany, but we still had the difficult task of selling the health concept to health professional retailers and traders.  At that time rebounding was unheard of as a tool for exercise or as part of a rehabilitation programme. Our breakthrough happened when an elderly client – with several physical ailments – presented our rebounder on a TV show that was beamed across Germany.  The following day we sold out, and the rest is history, as they say.  From then on physiotherapists and sports therapists began using our units for recovering patients and sports athletes. Now nearly every top German football team uses our rebounders, and many therapists, physicians, athletes and private users, own our rebounders.

 

How did the rebounder evolve?

In 1987 I started using bungee cords, and in 1991 I created rebounders with folding legs.

 

Did you copyright your idea?

No, not all of them, I was just a simple guy who was happy to develop my rebounder to get more people to buy one.  With hindsight I wish I had copyrighted more, because every type of folding leg rebounder produced now is built on my original idea. I did copyright our unique bungee cord tension system, and that makes my rebounders unique.

 

Did you foresee a rebounder explosion?

In the 80’s times were really tough – I remember one month selling only one rebounder, and my heart sank to an all-time business low. I remember thinking “Wouldn’t it be great if I could sell 50 to 100 per month?”  I never imagined what would happen decades later.

 

Is there a Bellicon connection?

Bellicon was formed 20-25 years ago by a former customer of mine. They tried to purchase my company but under terms that I could not agree with.  So, they went to China and tried to copy my rebounders, but they were unsuccessful because they could not match the quality and production. They later disbanded the idea of copying our spring rebounder choosing instead to copy our bungee cord rebounder. But it didn’t matter to me, as we were many steps ahead of them; with all of our experience, knowledge and a top-quality product.

 

What makes JUMPGA a superior rebounder?

One of the stand-out features is the quality of the bungee cord because, without exception all our bungee cord rebounders use a cord coated with multiple layers of highly elastic synthetic acetate fibres for unparalleled longevity.  Our competitor’s bungee cords are wrapped in a thin textile coating that wears through very quickly but ours are much more durable.  The other difference is that, unlike the Bellicon, our suspension – the ‘Vario system’ with 12 individual cords – allows the user to set the tension of the elastic mat to tighter or softer bounce depending on their weight and usage.  All without having to swap or replace the cords.

Lastly – and most importantly – we have the only specifically developed machine in the world that tests the tension of the cords. We have tested our competitors’ cords and know that our cords last up to ten times longer.

 

Why don’t you advertise more?

No need – with over 35 years of experience in research and design, we are known in Germany as the most experienced and reputable manufacturer in Europe. At first, trade buyers decided to go to the Far East to buy the cheaper rebounders but soon learned that it was a false economy when they kept breaking.  When these buyers came back to Trimilin they said, “Never again – we only want to buy your rebounders”!  Because I am not a large company, I’m not forced to advertise to make huge turnovers, so I do not have to compromise the quality to make more money. When people find us, they never leave us.