On the rebound
Claire Sawers rediscovers her inner child with a crash course in trampolining
My training for this Olympic sport began at a tender age. I was three years old, and a friend had hired a bouncy castle for her birthday party. Back then I wasn’t really thinking about the cardiovascular favours I was doing my body, or the muscular workout I was getting, but the appeal of trampolining was the same then as it is now. It’s fun, it’s easy and providing you haven’t just polished off a three-course meal or downed a bottle of something fizzy, it’s a painless way of getting fit.
Although trampolining is popular amongst children, a growing number of adults are discovering the benefits of the sport and bouncing their way into better shape. Springing around on an elasticated mat may feel more like playing than exercising, but actually, trampolining is a very efficient calorie burner, and an excellent way to build core strength. As coach Lauren Jeffrey explains when I turn up for a drop-in adult trampolining class on a stormy Sunday afternoon, jumping into the air automatically tenses all your muscles from toes to neck, so an hour’s session of bouncing can offer the same benefits as a vigorous step class or a gruelling round of sit-ups. Lauren, 24 and her sister Kayleigh, 19, have won medals in the Scottish National Trampolining Championships, and now teach beginners classes. Kayleigh starts me off with the basics – a tuck jump (cradling your knees in mid air), a pike jump (stretching legs forward and touching your toes) and a straddle (kicking legs into the sideways splits and touching your toes).
‘Because you’re weightless in the air, it makes you way more flexible,’ says Kayleigh, noticing my amazement as I nail a straddle after only a few minutes of jumping around. One of the other 20-something girls in the class looks impressive as she links moves together into a graceful mini-routine, starting with a straddle, bouncing athletically on her bum, then rotating 360° into a standing position. This is only her third class. Another girl is working on a ‘swivel hips’ move.
By the end of the hour-long session, I’ve invented my own wobbly scissor legs move, where I narrowly miss sliding my ankles down the springs at the side of the mat, and a self-hug, when I flap my arms before a full-turn and finish wrapped up straitjacket style. Although my arm and leg coordination could do with some work, the sensation of jumping about is good fun, and Kayleigh encourages me to freestyle with moves I enjoy. Feeling like a cross between Peter Pan and a giant grasshopper, I get more fearless with each turn I get on the mat, pinging myself higher towards the ceiling, and knocking years off myself with every bounce.
I can’t hide my disappointment when it is time to climb down from the mat onto solid ground after the class. Rediscovering a childhood play activity has also revealed a fun alternative to dull gym workouts.
What you need Tracksuit bottoms, T-shirt, socks.
Calories burned 300 per hour.
Muscles used Arms, legs, bum, stomach – it’s a full body workout that also raises the heartbeat, helping to burn fat.
Who should do it Big kids.
Who should avoid it Those with knee or back complaints.
Origins Trampolining is thought to have been invented by Eskimos, who used walrus skins to throw each other into the air. The first modern trampoline was built in 1934 by George Nissen after watching trapeze artists doing tricks on the safety net. He trademarked the word trampoline, from the Spanish ‘trampolin’, meaning diving board. Trampolining made its debut as an Olympic sport in 2000 in Sydney.
Details Drop-in trampolining classes are available at Meadowbank, Kirkliston, Craiglockhart and Crags sports centres in Edinburgh. Classes cost £5.50 or £4.20 with membership. The Glasgow Trampoline Club offers one-hour beginner sessions for £3.50. www.edinburghleisure.co.uk, www.glasgowtrampolineclub.co.uk or email Moirajeffrey@cityofedinburghtrampolineclub.co.uk