Indoor Action Sports Franchise KTR Emphasizes Coaching—and Has an Olympic Medalist Alum | Franchise News

Jagger Eaton said he dedicates all his success to KTR—and he’s had plenty of it. The 21-year-old made history last year as the first U.S. skateboarder to earn an Olympic medal with his bronze in the men’s street final at the Tokyo Olympics. He followed that up this year with his first X Games gold medal, 10 years after he was the youngest ever X Games competitor.

Eaton was just 11 when he dropped into the 80-foot MegaRamp at the X Games, but he’d already been skateboarding for seven years after his dad, Geoff Eaton, built a ramp inside the gymnastics gym he ran in Mesa, Arizona. It was Jagger Eaton’s and his brother, Jett’s, interest in skateboarding that spurred the development of what would become KTR, an indoor action sports center now with four franchise locations and counting.

“It was a dream childhood,” said Eaton of learning to skateboard at KTR, short for Kids That Rip. “It’s this safe environment where you can skate indoors for 12 hours,” something unique—and necessary—in Arizona, where temperatures can reach 120 degrees. It was at KTR that Eaton said he learned to train like an athlete and elevate his skating beyond the recreational activity level.

Jagger Eaton Olympics

Jagger Eaton, who won bronze at the Tokyo Olympics, started skateboarding at the age of 4 at what would become KTR.

“I consider myself an athlete. I live like an athlete, I train like an athlete, I eat like an athlete,” he said. “Right now I’m on my way to two hours of swimming.”

While not meant to be an Olympic training ground for skateboarders, Geoff Eaton did design KTR to bring some structure and real coaching to the sport. The son of world champion trampoline gymnast Mark “Stormy” Eaton, Geoff Eaton, an elite gymnast in his own right, took over Desert Devils Gymnastics in Mesa after his father’s death in 1995.

“Knowing elite gymnastics myself … I had a really good understanding of developing a curriculum and teaching people tricks safely at a very young age,” said Eaton. What started with a few ramps inside the Desert Devils gym eventually became KTR, with the first standalone center opening in Mesa in 2004.

“It turned into a full-blow school,” said Eaton, with kids skating for six hours a day. He added a parkour-style program with obstacle courses, slacklines and more, plus tumbling airfloors, trampolines and sport courts. By 2014, “I felt we’d mastered how KTR could work as a franchise,” he said. Enter Ron Sciarro, co-founder of Aqua-Tots Swim Schools.

“I’ve known Geoff forever. Thirty years ago, we went to high school together,” said Sciarro, who with Paul Preston launched Aqua-Tots in Phoenix and has grown the swim school franchise to 120-plus locations. “The first Aqua-Tots pool was actually in Geoff’s gym.”

KTR obstacle course

KTR’s ninja zones feature obstacle courses, salmon ladders, slacklines and more.

Sciarro was intrigued by the KTR concept that, like Aqua-Tots, helped kids develop skills and stay active all while having fun. Now a managing partner and spearheading franchise development, Sciarro helped refine the KTR model which combines skateboarding, parkour, scooter, tumbling and trampoline classes with options for group events and party rentals, and memberships.

Three Arizona franchise locations are open, in Mesa, Chandler and Scottdale, with a Phoenix center coming soon, plus one in Midvale, Utah. It costs about $3 million to build out one of the 40,000-square-foot facilities, said Sciarro, “and we’re really sensitive to not growing too fast. Opening one or two a year is the pace.”

Other kids entertainment franchises such as Sky Zone and Urban Air Adventure Park have more than a hundred locations each, but Eaton views those concepts more as indoor playgrounds for kids. “People try to put us in the box of a trampoline park,” he said. Yes, “it’s this Disneyland-looking center” and play is important, but so is the progression of skills.

“People on our team are the elite of the elite and we know how to do progression of skills development,” he said. “Everything from a drop-in to a 540 on a 12-foot ramp. Our goal with KTR is to provide the best coaching and education.”

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