Get Some Bounce-In-Your-Step Aerobics
Jewish Community Center offers low-impact, high energy Kangoo Jumps classes
Kangoo. That's not a misspelling of kangaroo, though the Kangoo Jumps exercise shoes that are popping up (and down) in fitness classes will make you bounce like the mighty marsupial.
Think of an inline skate. Instead of wheels, Kangoo Jumps have a circular rebound platform on the bottoms that act as mini-trampolines.
An anti-gravity exercise? I had to find out. I first saw the Kangoos at a fitness convention in the summer and was looking for a class to try.
By chance, I heard about a class at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington in Rockville and decided to jump at the opportunity.
The shoes are supposed to challenge the whole body, building muscular strength and endurance. Each move is designed to focus on core stability, ensuring a balanced workout while reducing impact and protecting the joints. The shoe's maker claims that they reduce impact on the joints by 80 percent. They can be used indoors or outdoors. And they are supposed to be fun.
I was about to find out. While I have a regular yoga practice, I hadn't had any cardiovascular exercise since the summer. I was a little nervous. I got to the class early in order to have time alone with the Kangoos. The instructor, Denise Pullet, helped me strap on the boots and stand.
Suddenly, I was six-and-a-half inches taller. It was a little awkward standing on a wide circle, but the shoes are surprisingly stable. After a few seconds of teetering, I got the hang of it. It was a good thing. Class was about to start, and while moving is easy, standing around requires a little more balance than I had.
There were about 10 people in the class, with ages ranging from 14 to 60. The format was about 45 minutes of cardiovascular work. Think aerobic moves with bounce, which was fun and fairly easy to do from a balancing perspective.
Pullet took us into a slower series, including a move called the robot that calls for a wide stance while moving your upper body slowly, keeping your balance and then doing squats. I had a tough time staying balanced but the rest of the class could do it.
The result: My heart rate monitor showed that I burned as many calories as I do on a five-mile run. My heart rate approached what you would expect from a run or a spin class. And it was fun. There were smiles all around the class, including on the face of the newbie.
You too can Kangoo
The Kangoo Jumps are a little pricey. The basic adult model sells for $230.
They are all-terrain, so they can be used indoors or they can be taken on the road. Pullet says people of all ages can use them, but the minimum weight requirement is 45 pounds.
The shoes are Swiss-engineered and were first designed to help people with leg injuries. Rosalinda Fainchtein, who has been taking the class for more than a year, said: "I can't do regular aerobics, but with the boots I can do it and it's fun."
According to Pullet, Kangoos they have been popular in Europe for about 20 years and in the U.S. for about four.
Expensive but fun
Neither the shoes nor the classes are particularly inexpensive. The drop-in rate for non-members is $20 per class. So ask yourself: Two cocktails or a kangoo class?
You may also register for classes in one-month blocks at a rate of $79 for JCC members and $99 for the general public.
The class is offered once-a-week on Sundays for adults and on Thursdays for teens. Online registration opens Wednesday for class sessions that begin next week.