Photo by SkyZone/Facebook
What do you get when you combine a high-intensity workout, low-impact exercises, and a 7-year-old’s birthday party? One of the biggest trends of the moment: a trampoline fitness class.
These group workouts for adults bear little resemblance to the mini-trampoline aerobics popular in the ’80s. For one, they typically take place at trampoline parks, which are indoor centers with entire floors — and sometimes even walls — made for gravity-defying jumps. Classes usually deliver full-body strength and cardio workouts performed entirely on the trampoline.
“It’s a blast. You can’t help but smile when you’re on a trampoline,” said Michael Browning, owner of Urban Air Indoor Trampoline Parks. “You don’t realize how hard you’re working.”
A Growing Trend
Park owners and fitness instructors say they’ve seen exponential growth in the popularity of trampoline workouts over the past two to three years. Only one or two people would show up when Sky Zone Kennesaw, in Kennesaw, Ga., first started offering trampoline fitness classes in 2012. “Recently we’ve had as many as 40 people in one class,” said instructor Hannah Howard. “It’s exciting to see how much it’s grown — it’s unbelievable.”
Urban Air first opened in 2011, launching its trampoline fitness program shortly thereafter. “As we started to do more research on the benefits of trampoline exercise, we said, ‘That’s interesting,’” Browning told Yahoo Health. “We started seeing the rebounders [mini-trampolines] and wondered how we could make it a massive class.” Urban Air now employs a full-time fitness coordinator and nearly 20 instructors at its four Dallas-area facilities.
Burn As You Bounce
Can this fad actually get you fit? In a word, yes. A study in the Journal of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation found that jogging on a trampoline while pumping handheld weights yields an average heart rate of 156 to 178 beats per minute. That’s roughly equivalent to any other form of vigorous exercise, such as running or swimming laps.
Browning says that many of his members wear heart rate monitors to class and compete with one another to see who can burn the most calories. “We never see anything less than 800 calories,” he said. “I’ve seen it upward of 1300 in an hour.”
At Urban Air, classes utilize resistance bands, medicine balls, and battling ropes — the same functional training equipment you’d see at any high-end gym. Fitness coordinator Kathy Smallwood also incorporates modern athletic training methods such high-intensity interval training (HIIT), circuits, and plyometrics (explosive jumps). “A lot of people think, ‘Oh, trampoline fitness. I’m going to be jumping up and down for an hour,’ but that’s not really the case,” Browning said. “It’s a full-body workout.”
Jumping on a trampoline especially targets your core, Howard said. “When you jump high in the air, you have to tighten your core muscles to control your body’s position,” she explained. Howard includes several jump variations in her classes, such as tuck jumps and jumping jacks, to work the abs from every angle.
Related: Tone Your Whole Body on a Park Bench
More Full-Body Benefits
The classes are especially popular among people with knee and joint issues, according to Browning. “A lot of people say, ‘It was so easy on my body but I was still able to get a great workout,’” he says.
Research supports the claims. Jumping on the ground produces a force equal to three to four times your bodyweight, studies show. Over time, that high impact can lead to injuries such as stress fractures. But a trampoline’s compliant surface softens your landing, reducing the pounding on your joints.
In another study, Australian researchers videotaped athletes jumping on a trampoline and on the ground. They noticed that the subjects didn’t bend their ankles, hips, and knees as much when landing on the trampoline. This position reduces the stress on the joints and makes the leg muscles produce more explosive force when jumping up, the researchers explained.
A trampoline is also an effective tool to bolster your balance, studies show. Athletes prone to ankle sprains were significantly steadier after six weeks of training on a trampoline, according to a paper in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. And a 2011 study found that after training on a trampoline, older adults were 34 percent better at catching themselves from falling.
“The trampoline is going to put you in an unstable environment, which challenges and develops your balance and coordination,” said Anthony J. Wall, director of professional education for the American Council on Exercise. Be sure to start easy and progress at your own pace to avoid injuries, Wall added.
Do Try This At Home
No class trampoline near you? No problem. Smallwood of Urban Air created the following at-home workout exclusively for Yahoo Health. You can do it on a mini-trampoline or an outdoor trampoline, whatever you have available.
Jump forward, back, right, left — 1 minute
Jump up, lifting your knees at the top — 1 minute
Jump side to side, lifting your knees at the top — 1 minute
Repeat Round 1 three times (9 minutes total)
Jog in place slowly — 30 seconds
Jog in place quickly — 30 seconds
Pushup on trampoline — 30 seconds
Mountain climbers: Starting at the top of a pushup position, pull your knee toward your chest; repeat, alternating knees — 30 seconds
Repeat Round 2 three times (12 minutes total)
Jump up as high as possible — 30 seconds
Jump up, twisting hips to the right and back to the center — 30 seconds
Jump up, twisting hips to the left and back to the center — 30 seconds
Jump up and touch heels to butt at top — 30 seconds
Repeat Round 3 two times (4 minutes)
Total: 25 minutes
Related: Build a Home Gym for Under $100