Five minutes into my first Bounce session, I am seriously regretting that last-minute banana I scoffed at home for an extra boost - the energy, I most definitely needed; the feeling of nausea every time my feet hit the trampoline, I could most definitely have done without.
With over 150 branches across the UK, Bounce is the latest fitness trend taking over local dance studios and town halls - and I’m here to find out if it’s the new workout for me. The 60-minute class consists of 40 minutes of cardio on a mini trampoline split into three high intensity interval training (HIIT) sections, with a one-two minute break between each. This is followed by 20 minutes of toning.
The instructor at my local class in Hertfordshire, Maddi Cooper, tells me to keep my knees bent, lean forwards and push hard into the trampoline with my weight over the balls of my feet to get the most out of the “full-body” workout. It’s at this moment I realise playing on a garden trampoline as a kid has not prepared me for what lies ahead. Just over ten minutes in I step off the trampoline ready to take my first, much-needed break, only to discover my legs feel like I’ve just stepped off a boat.
Bounce was started by fitness instructor Kimberlee Perry in September 2014 in Harlow, Essex, with just eight trampolines, but now it’s giving the likes of Zumba and Clubbercise a run for their money on the British fitness scene, with European branches set to open later this year.
Classes are relatively affordable, starting at £6.25 per session with no membership fee, and are designed to be accessible, with all ages and abilities welcome. I’m told the session is even suitable for those recovering from injury as “rebounding is often used as a form of physiotherapy” and the mat “absorbs 87% of impact when you bounce”.
If you’re new to fitness or struggling with the class, you’re encouraged to take water breaks or pause to catch a breath whenever needed - but be warned, the class is far from easy. Despite exercising around three times a week, I’m tempted to chuck the towel in before the first HIIT section is finished.
The cardio workout is tough, consisting of aerobic dance movements - think jump kicks, punches ‘boxercise-style’ and ski jumps from side to side in time to music - interspersed with intense, quick bounces up and down. At first, I struggle to co-ordinate arms an legs movements - while the class regulars are performing star jumps with military precision, I’m going “in” on every “out” jump. But thanks to the distraction of a cheesy pop soundtrack, with classics like Usher’s ‘Yeah!’ booming from the speakers, I ease into the movements by the second round of HIIT, begin to feel myself smiling and my nausea passes. The instructor Maddi is also a huge help for motivation; I’m in awe of how she’s constantly chatting, singing and cheering the group on, when the rest of the room are panting.
The creators claim the workout burns around 700 calories per hour and that completing cardio on a trampoline is three times more effective than floor-based fitness, such as running, thanks to “the addition of gravity and g-force”. It’s easy to believe; after the second round of HIIT, my heart rate is fast and my legs are wobbling far more than they do after a 30-minute run. During the third HIIT section, a slow squat on the trampoline followed by a controlled kick to the side engages ab and leg muscles I haven’t used since doing ballet as a teenager.
I breathe a sigh of relief when Maddi announces we’ve completed all three cardio sections and will now move on to toning, but I soon realise the hardest part of the class is yet to come.
The 20-minute toning section involves floor-based work using the trampoline as a base. My arms shake as we complete tricep dips and my glutes burn after repeated drills of kickbacks (leaning forward on the trampoline and pushing your foot towards the ceiling). We then lie on the trampoline and as the only newbie in the room, I’m also the only person who hasn’t come prepared with a towel. I settle for laying my jacket over the trampoline to stop my hair catching in the springs.
It’s then on to sit-ups and crunches that leave my abs feeling tender for days, interspersed with shoulder stands. Completing a shoulder stand on a hard floor is difficult; trying it on a trampoline is almost ridiculous, but I love the challenge. I don’t *quite* nail it this time, but with a few sessions under my belt, I think I might.
Just when I think I can’t take any more, Maddi announces we’re on the last set and I feel that sudden burst of final energy you only get after completing a tough but rewarding class.
The class members - referred to by instructors as the #BounceArmy “because we are stronger together and a force to be reckoned with” - assemble for a victory team photo. It’s a class tradition and creates an instant sense of community, with 14 strong women celebrating one another’s determination.
I leave the studio with a smile on my face and am pleasantly surprised the next day when my legs don’t ache - perhaps there is method in the trampoline’s “shock absorbing” madness after all.
Bounce classes start at £6.25 for an early bird ticket (bought over a week in advance), or a single ticket starts at £6.95 depending on location. Find your nearest class here.