The Fitness Workshop: Trampolining
When I first saw the trampoline, I felt I had gone back in time to my school PE class, in particular a Wednesday afternoon when I sprained an ankle with one carefree – or, rather, as the PE teacher put it, careless – bounce. Thanks to my "lack of co-ordination" (her words), trampolining was not a sport I cared to continue with.
However, done properly, it can be good for you. Far from being a fairground attraction, it offers an all-round workout for the legs and core muscles. There is no jarring of the load-bearing joints or spine that can occur with high-impact exercises such as jogging, and it can help motor skills.
Studies have shown that trampolining can also improve the mineral content and therefore the density of bones, lessening the likelihood of fractures from osteoporosis.
“Trampolining is an effective form of exercise,” says Zane, my instructor at London’s Sobell Centre, “though it is easy to hurt yourself if you don’t follow the safety rules”.
Clambering up on to the “bed”, the childhood thrill of bouncing about came rushing back. Tempting as it was to try to jump as high as the man on the next trampoline, who seemed to clear three storeys with ease before falling back with a few twists and somersaults chucked in for good measure, I was content to start with the basics.
All trampolining routines consist of combinations of 10 contacts with the bed.
The most basic routine, said Zane, comprises of – deep breath – a straight jump up (landing in the same spot each time); a front drop (bouncing down onto your front); tuck (bringing your knees to your chest, mid-jump); half turn (180 degree vertical rotation); full turn (turning one complete rotation); straddle (bringing your legs up straight and spread out, while reaching for the toes); pike (like the straddle jump, but with legs closed); seat drop (landing in a seated position with the legs straight); bounce back up to feet (from a seated position); and the self-explanatory emergency stop.
“Everyone has to master these moves before even thinking about performing a somersault,” he said. The proper fun stuff would have to wait.
If avoiding bouncing onto the floor was the first priority, remembering the moves was a close second. Although we broke the routine down into sections, it was still surprisingly hard to put it all together.
After two hours, there was a marked improvement in my routine. Trampolining got my heart going; it certainly provides a thorough aerobic workout – burning up to three times the calories of jogging – and is a good way to develop co-ordination.
You need to concentrate to maintain balance, height, assume your positions and anticipate the next pose in the sequence.
“It increases muscle strength, especially in the legs and stomach, and is also good for your flexibility,” said Zane. “But adults come for the fun element. It’s a good stress reliever, too, a way to bounce away calories and tension.”
I can vouch for that. Once I got over the initial worry of bouncing off the bed, I really enjoyed myself. However, I think I would have looked slightly more graceful had I been able to touch my toes mid-air. Something to work on.