As a longtime runner, at least once a year I have a month or two when some minor injury forces me to take a break and focus on a low-impact workout. Sometimes my IT band is acting up; other times my legs just feel tired.
This year, though, it was something much bigger. I strained my hamstring in January, and when I still wasn't able to run by May, I was itching to find a workout that would give me something even slightly resembling a runner's high.
I've never been a huge fan of cycling classes, and I've always found pedaling away on an elliptical while staring at a cement wall and listening to the same Taylor Swift song on repeat to be a little soul-sucking.
So when a friend told me she had tried a trampoline class and that it was great cardio, I thought I'd give it a try. The concept seemed like a silly one—and I certainly didn't remember sweating much while bouncing on a trampoline as a kid—but what choice did I have? I needed to get my heart rate up!
A few weeks later, I found myself doing jumping jacks, sprinting, and doing lunges on a small trampoline for a full 50 minutes.
Any self-consciousness I felt at the beginning of class quickly dissolved as I found myself sweating, engaging my core, and feeling ridiculously happy. Even better, my hamstring didn't complain once.
From that day on, I started taking trampoline classes weekly and became a walking advertisement for them. They were an amazing workout, I promised friends and co-workers. The classes also felt like a workout for my mind (I really have to focus on not falling off!) and there was no way to not feel joyful while jumping around.
While I'm sure you trust my opinion at least a little bit, I decided to get in touch with an expert who could explain more about why a trampoline workout is such an awesome one. So I chatted with Louis Coraggio, who founded the New York City–based class TrampoLEAN, to get some inside information on the art and science of bouncing on a trampoline to burn calories.
Here's what you need to know.
Yes, it really does burn calories.
It's hard to believe that bouncing on a trampoline for less than an hour can give you a total-body workout, but Coraggio assured me that it really does.
"Trampoline training combines cardio endurance, muscular toning, and HIIT [high-intensity interval training]. Adding intervals, choreography, and athletic movement make this jump-based workout more entertaining and effective," he explained. "Its exclusive, low-impact nature puts less strain on your joints, especially the knees and back. Jumping for 50 minutes on a trampoline is the equivalent of taking about 4,000 steps."
As for calories, you're burning a lot of them.
"One can expect to burn around 400 to 600 calories while improving balance, stability, and core strength. Trampoline classes will naturally make your body sweat more. This is due to the lymphatic systems increased detoxification from the effects of receptive jumping."
Here's why trampoline classes make you so happy
Rarely has a workout class made me feel the joy I feel during and after a trampoline class. Here's what Coraggio had to say about that phenomenon.
"As babies, our heart rate decreases when we are cradled and rocked. We have an innate desire to be bounced, held, cradled, and rocked," he explained. "Since our cells are programmed this way, when we jump on a trampoline it naturally makes us happy and puts us into a positive state of mind. At the top of each jump we become weightless for a fraction of a second. This feeling alters our sensory system, which is similar to the feeling you get on a roller coaster."
Yep, that explains it.
There's a huge mind-body component involved.
On top of the happiness and sweat trampoline classes provide me with, another thing I've noticed is that all that jumping seriously gets my mind involved.
"When jumping, it is important to stay connected to three aspects of your foot when landing," Coraggio explained. "The heel, big toe, and pinkie toe area. It’s also important to control yourself from bouncing too high. The goal is to stay in a ski-like position while tucking your knees up and down. This motion requires a huge amount of mind-body connection. I encourage people to take constant inventory of their body and envision their land and jump before it happens."
What if you don't live somewhere that offers trampoline classes nearby?
Worry not—if you're willing to invest in a small trampoline, you can do the same workout at home.
"Tabata interval training works very well on a trampoline," Coraggio noted. "I use an app called Interval Timer. Set it for 20 seconds of high-intensity training and 10 seconds of recovery, and repeat that sequence eight times. Choose exercises that push you out of your comfort zone for 20 seconds. Some examples include sprints, jump squats, and stomping. During recovery breaks, perform jumping jacks or light bouncing while connecting to your breathing."
Yep, it seems trampoline classes are the low-impact workout of the future. Happy bouncing!