Professional BMX bike rider Kevin Robinson knows what it takes to be competitive and successful. The five times X Games gold medalist and world record holder for highest jump also knew that, in order to accomplish his goals, he was first going to have to leave the New England area, which he did for 10 years. His newest endeavor, indoor BMX and skate park (that offers much more) Impact Action Sports Park, was developed with the hope of giving kids the chance to learn and grow their skills locally, so they could follow in his footsteps without first having to take that long journey away from home.
Impact Action Sports Park opened on May 16, 2014, and business has been steady, with a successful summer. Robinson and his staff of 12 are gearing up for the winter, which is when business really picks up due to cold weather and the lack of indoor activities. In addition to tracks that people can ride, skate or scoot on, Impact Action Sports Park features a variety of programs, both youth- and adult-oriented. There are BMX and skateboarding instructional classes (beginner and intermediate), birthday parties, vacation camps, parties (they recently had a BMX Halloween Jam, which turned out to be an “epic” event) and even an afterschool program for kids in the West Warwick area. There are also Open Park Passes, which can be purchased in three or six hour sessions. The Open Park Passes are a key indicator that Robinson listens to his customers, as he read feedback requesting that he add an extra hour to the $15 session, which he promptly did.
Robinson worked with John at Skidmark Parks, a leader in building indoor parks, to help design the building and layout. Robinson had a good idea of what he wanted his place to look like before making this a reality. “Most important are the right ceiling height, square footage and price,” Robinson said of his decision for the location he chose. “As for the layout, I wanted one that would be inviting to your novice, suitable for your weekend warrior,and challenging for any action sport professional.”
Having been in the business over 25 years and enduring 42 surgeries, Robinson makes it a point to ensure that Impact Action Sports Park promotes safety to everyone who steps foot onto the courses. Helmets must be worn and buckled, knees and elbows must be covered and park etiquette is to be followed at all times. There is also a waiver that each participant must complete before being able to ride.
“Helmets are a 100% requirement, no exceptions,” Robinson emphasizes. “I’ve been a professional BMXer for 25 years and cannot imagine not wearing a helmet. Why in the world would anyone want to take a chance of hitting their head and changing their life forever? Not on my watch! All our staff is CPR certified. We’ve worked closely with the local fire/rescue and police to make sure we are all on the same page.”
Knowing that it is hard to look “cool” when strapped with pads, Robinson developed Grindz, clothing that comes complete with pads already attached. Pants have pads built into the knee, tailbone and hip areas. The hope is that kids — or any rider, for that matter — are more apt to wear them because they look like regular pants. “Kids are so reluctant to wear pads due to peer pressure (which is insane to me),” Robinson says, “so we created stylish pants with five points of protection — knee pads, hip pads and a tailbone pad, none of which are visible from the outside. It’s what inside that counts!” There is also a line of shirts and hoodies without pads built in, and the entire line is available for sale online and at Impact Action Sports Park for a surprisingly affordable price.
The main thing that surrounds Impact Action Sports Park is positivity and an all-around can-do attitude. “It’s about being around the world I love!” Robinson said. “I love action sports from the core of my soul! I’ve lived it and breathed it for 30 years. It’s part of my DNA.” Everyone I’ve spoken to has glowing things to say about their love of having an indoor park in the area and the passion and energy that Robinson and his staff bring to this business. I went there early one rainy morning to check the place out and spoke with a parent, whose son was taking a skateboard lesson on the other side of the complex. She said that her son has been taking lessons for a couple of weeks, after attending a birthday party and mentioned how great Robinson is with the kids he teaches. “Very motivating,” she told me.
I got to see his teaching style first-hand as I observed him teaching three BMXers who couldn’t have been older than 5. He captivated their attention, which is not a simple task, especially when the kids have bikes and could have easily taken off. He had a gentle yet fun teaching style, demonstrating what he wanted them to do and constructively encouraging them as they did it.
“We go at your pace,” he told a youngster who seemed too scared to ride down one of the ramps. He waited and encouraged until the kid mustered up the courage to try it, successfully completing the exercise.
“It’s so rewarding to see kids find their passion in life and go after it,” Robinson said when speaking of his favorite part of running this business. “And they learn some of life’s most important skills along the way, such as perseverance, self-confidence, facing your fears and creativity.”
Peter Martone, a member of the Punks for a Princess BMX team that attends races all over the East Coast, is thrilled that such a place exists in our state. “It is great for Rhode Island to finally have a dedicated facility for extreme sports. As skateboarding and BMX grow, there are not many places where kids can practice in a safe environment. Having been to Impact multiple times myself, I have seen first hand that Kevin Robinson and his entire staff really care about the kids’ well being, and strive to provide a fun environment for them to practice.”
Impact Action Sports Park is located at 2 Szydlo Dr in West Warwick. Hours of operation are Sunday: 10am – 6pm; Tuesday – Thursday: 3 – 9pm; Friday 3 – 11pm; Saturday 9am – 9pm. They often have jams and other great events. Check out their website (impactskatepark.com) or call 401-615-8110 to stay updated.