Indoor Action Sports Franchise KTR Emphasizes Training—and Has an Olympic Medal | Franchise News

Jagger Eaton said he credits all of his success to KTR—and he’s had plenty of it. The 21-year-old made history last year as the first American skateboarder to win an Olympic medal with his bronze in the men’s road 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 X Games competitor.

Eaton was just 11 years old when he hit the 80-foot MegaRamp at the X Games, but he had already been skateboarding for seven years after his father, Geoff Eaton, built a ramp inside the gymnastics gym he ran in Mesa, Arizona. It was Jagger Eaton 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,” Eaton said 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 take his skating beyond the recreational level.

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, train like an athlete, eat like an athlete,” he said. “Right now I’m on my way for a two hour swim.”

While it wasn’t intended to be an Olympic training ground for skateboarders, Geoff Eaton designed KTR to bring some structure and real training 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 very good understanding of developing a curriculum and teaching tricks safely to people at a very young age,” Eaton said. What started as a few ramps inside the Desert Devils gym eventually became KTR, with the first stand-alone facility opening in Mesa in 2004.

“It became a full school,” Eaton said, with kids skating for six hours a day. It added a parkour-style program with obstacle courses, slacklines and more, as well as folding floors, trampolines and sports courts. By 2014, “I felt like we had 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 started Aqua-Tots in Phoenix and has grown the swim school franchise to more than 120 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 KTR’s idea that, like Aqua-Tots, helped kids develop skills and stay active while having fun. Now a managing partner and pioneer in franchise development, Sciarro has helped refine the KTR model that 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 one of the 40,000-square-foot facilities, Sciarro said, “and we’re really sensitive about not growing too fast. Opening one or two a year is the pace.”

Other children’s entertainment franchises like Sky Zone and Urban Air Adventure Park have more than a hundred locations each, but Eaton sees these 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-like center” and play is important, but so is skill development.

“The people on our team are the elite of the elite, and we know how to progress skill 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 training and education.”

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