It was spring break this year when I first noticed just how fantastic my friend Maria was looking. Her leg and arm muscles were defined and she was quite slimmer in the mid-section. She looked ... well ... fit!
Everyone in my group of friends knows Maria is an extreme dieter. The girl has willpower. She's introduced us to diets like the Lemonade Diet and other extreme regimes. So when I asked her what was the cause of her success, I expected an answer like, "I only eat legumes and kale and only eat between 6 and 10 a.m."
But it turns out her recipe for success this time was bouncing.
Bouncing—also known as rebounding—is an exercise that takes place on a mini trampoline. The exercise gained popularity in 1980, when NASA began using rebounding to help astronauts regain bone density after returning from space. This came on the heels of a study published in the Journal of Physiology that found rebounding is 68 percent more efficient than running.
I had no idea about any of these health benefits when, shortly after spring break, three of my friends and I eagerly signed up for our first bouncing class at the studio Maria had been attending: Bouncing Fitness on Belding Road. The studio is owned by Cheryl—a 60-something woman, wife and mother of 10—who teaches nearly 40 classes a week. The classes can be all bounce, or a combo of bounce plus yoga, Pilates, circuit training or total resistance exercise (TRX).
My first class combined bouncing and TRX, which requires the use of straps anchored into a beam that forces you to leverage your body weight to build strength, balance and core stability—simultaneously. In this interval class, you continuously hold the straps while jumping (ha!) between bouncing and strength training. Midway through my first class, I had to drop the TRX straps. After complaining a bit about how my shoulders were burning, Cheryl told me that if I held the straps the entire class I would likely be so sore the next day that I might not be able to drive.
The next day I was sore.
But I could drive.
Over the years, I've done a ton of group classes like step aerobics, kickboxing, P90X and yoga. Bouncing is the only exercise that makes me feel like I get a whole-body cardio and toning workout. I feel like every movement and every minute is getting me results. (One gentleman in the class remarked that he had been doing kettle bell workouts for years, but bouncing defined muscles he didn't even know he had.) Cheryl's goal is to help her students get stronger—because as we age, we can lose muscle. There are many other health benefits to bouncing, too.
- Boosts lymphatic drainage and immune function.
- Great for skeletal system and increasing bone mass.
- Helps improve digestion.
- More than twice as effective as running, without the extra stress on the ankles and knees.
- Increases endurance on a cellular level by stimulating mitochondrial production (these are responsible for cell energy).
- Helps improve balance by stimulating the vestibule in the middle ear.
- Helps improve the effects of other exercise: One study found that those who rebounded for 30 seconds between weight lifting sets saw 25 percent more improvement after 12 weeks than those who did not.
- Rebounding helps circulate oxygen throughout the body to increase energy.
- Rebounding is a whole-body exercise that improves muscle tone throughout the body.
- Some sources claim that the unique motion of rebounding can also help support the thyroid and adrenals.
SOURCE: Wellness Mama "Health Benefits of Rebounding," April 22, 2017
I know you're wondering, but what if I "spill."
Unfortunately, bladder control can be an issue for some. I've found, however, that over a few weeks, this issue goes away for most, as your pelvic floor strengthens and you learn how much you can and can't drink before class.
Just this last week, my 13-year-old daughter came to her first class with me. After two months of bouncing, I was super excited to share the experience with someone in my family. She loved it so much we bought her a punch card of her own. No matter your age—60, 42 or 13—bouncing is an excellent and fun exercise option to keep you healthy and strong.
Can't find a bouncing studio near you? Consider purchasing a mini trampoline and workout DVDs for your home gym.
Lisa Young is the Marketing Director at West Michigan Woman.