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Trampoline, the Childhood Favorite That Makes for One Hell of a Workout

It may not be the coolest exercise in town, but it sure is effective.

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There are plenty of workouts way cooler than trampoline. Tapping back on a bike seat while spinning? Badass. Swinging a kettlebell and avoiding the Broad City-style fate of having it fly out of your hand and shatter a mirror? Incredible. Two-stepping on an apparatus popularized by the '90s classic Fried Green Tomatoes? Not so much.

Yet, odds are that if you’re reading this story, you're wondering how your favorite childhood backyard activity could possibly be exercise, cool factor be damned. Well, get ready to boing! your way towards wellness, because trampoline is happening and surprise: it's hard as hell.

Gyms across the country are now offering classes in trampoline fitness, often branded as the cooler-sounding (operative word here being sounding) "urban rebounding." There's Sky Zone Trampoline Park, a rapidly-expanding chain of childhood dreams (read: wall-to-wall trampolines), that offers classes in 35 states and across Canada. And then, of course, there are the boutique classes that utilize individual trampolines of the Fried Green Tomatoes variety. Bicoastal powerhouses like Body by Simone and The Bari Studio offer their signature calorie-incinerating bounce classes in multiple locations, while standalone spots like JumpLife and TrampoLean in New York and Jumping Fitness in California focus their energy on single studios.

These options can all look relatively the same to trampoline newbies, but there are huge differences between practices. Classes at full-service gyms tend to be less choreographed and feature more strength-heavy exercises, while classes like those at Body by Simone and Bari both take a more full-body approach, with the latter involving resistance bands. And studios that use trampolines with handlebars will give you a totally distinct workout: one that’s better for quick movement and the balance-averse, but can inhibit your range of motion.

It's important to remember that everything—everything!—is more difficult on a trampoline.

Regardless of where you bounce, it's important to remember that everything—everything!—is more difficult on a trampoline. Squats. Stability exercises. Sit-ups. You can’t help but feel a bit betrayed that equipment you most closely associate with suburban yards will keep you from walking the next day. This is because exercise trampolining is all about anti-gravity. Instead of bouncing high and feeling free, you’re bouncing down. The workout is manipulating your muscles against the exploding straddle jumps you actually want to do. That resistance is the thing that makes it not as fun as you would hope; you’re moving in one direction and fighting the motion in another, so it works you twice as hard.

Which is to say, don’t take one trampoline class to decide if you like it, take eight. Since trampoline requires more strength and balance than nearly any other cardio trend out there, you’ll need to practice in order to build up to class pace, but once you’re there, you'll be working harder than you ever imagined, while keeping your joints intact too.

In New York, there is a flavor of trampoline exercise for every mood and I've tried them all (well, most). Through and through, Bari Studio remains my favorite for its full-body approach and challenging choreography. This is actually my regular workout of choice! Not jogging, not spinning—nope, I prefer bouncing up and (mostly) down in Bari’s downtown studio.

It’s a workout for every part of your body, from your overwhelmed brain to your tightened core to your flat feet.

I love trampoline workouts because, truly, I hate them. Do you know how annoying it is to be out of breath, your heart beating out of your chest, while gunning it on equipment that could just as easily be used for playtime? It’s a mindfuck. It’s also exhilarating and challenging, and it feels like an accomplishment each time you make it through an entire song without hopping off your personal trampoline, panting and cursing Rihanna for how many choruses she has. (I "take a lot of water breaks" because I’m "dehydrated," but really because Bari Studio’s approach is tougher than I am.)

While most trampoline practices will have you doing a similar set of moves—down bouncing, which is essentially small squat jumps, paired with running, where core strength is the only thing keeping you from getting ejected off the equipment—niche studios like Body by Simone and Bari kick it up a notch. Whether you’re doing "rocking horse" or "monkey" or "cross-jacks," it’s a workout for every part of your body, from your overwhelmed brain to your tightened core to your flat feet.

There are even trampoline planks, trampoline lunges, and trampoline toning, where you flip your trampoline on its side and hold on for dear life while your ass cheeks shake more than a background dancer in a Miley Cyrus video. It’s as relentless as cardio, while actually going way beyond it, plus there's none of the mind-numbingness you'll get with other exercises. (Truth is, if you don’t stay focused and correctly in line, you won’t be able to keep up.)

Like we said, spinning is badass...but you can still push the pedals if your core isn’t tight. Kettlebells are dope too, but slip your focus for a second and, oof, anything can happen. Trampolining requires a different type of concentration though, requiring every part of you to connect to the task at hand. Give it a shot—and hey, maybe I’ll even see you in class.

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