Work Out on the Rebound

Remember when you spent hours on the trampoline as a kid? You didn’t know it then, but you were actually getting in a great workout. Bounding around has inspired a cardio workout phenomenon founded by a former circus performer. 

Al Carter and his family did not live a normal life in the 1970s. Touring the country with a 45-minute circus act, they were performing for a paycheck, without fitness in mind. But when his children eventually returned to public schools, they began breaking athletic records with their strength and agility. "I look back, and I still can't believe the events that followed our trampoline tour," he says. "I was the typical daddy in a typical family that was a-typically strong."

Carter went on a mission to uncover the science and health benefits behind trampolining—and what has evolved into a modern mini-trampoline-based exercise called Urban Rebounding. He says this controlled method of using gravity and resistance has numerous advantages when it comes to working out, including:

  • Improving muscle-to-fat ratio
  • Aiding lymphatic and respiratory circulation
  • Increasing the production of red blood cells
  • Raising the resting metabolic rate so more calories are burned
  • Promoting tissue repair

Perhaps most importantly, Carter says: "Exercise is only effective if the person actually exercises—and one key is finding something you enjoy doing. Rebounding is fun and playful for most people, so they'll participate more often."

A typical Urban Rebounding class consists of five minutes of warm-ups, 25 minutes of choreographed cardio on the rebounder, 10 minutes of jogs, sprints and plyometrics (jumping exercises), 10 minutes of strength work and then a final 10-minute stretch on the rebounder. Christopher Blake Mays, a former Disney acrobat who teaches Urban Rebounding at Crunch Fitness, says it's possible to burn 700 calories in a 60-minute class. "I was drawn to it myself because I was looking for a fun workout that wouldn't hurt my joints," Mays says. People of all ages, even those with arthritis and pregnant women, take his classes. (Always consult with your physician before starting an exercise program.)

Jodi Lin Wiener, a 29-year-old fashion publicist in New York City, has been taking Urban Rebounding with Mays for more than two years. "I just love the fantastic rush I feel when I walk out [of each class]," she says. She even did an "Urban Rebounding marathon" this year to benefit the American Diabetes Association. "No matter how busy I am, I'll always make time for exercise," she notes. "But the opportunity to do something as enjoyable as Urban Rebounding makes going to the gym sheer delight." She also loves the effect this workout has had on her body. "When people notice that I've leaned up and lost weight, I tell them it has to do with rebounding," she says. "I love that you can do this exercise day in and day out because you never feel negative physical effects like you do with step, regular floor aerobics or kickboxing."

Mays adds: "When you rebound, you actually go into a semihypnotic state, or 'the zone.' It's the ideal time to visualize your dreams and goals." And he's quick to say that, although Urban Rebounding may be gaining popularity now, the exercise has been around for decades. "I definitely wouldn't call it a trend," he says. "I'd call it an experience to move you towards manifesting total mind-body health."

Al Carter, the founder of ReboundAIR Inc., is considered a pioneer of rebounding, and his workout is being used at health clubs across the country.

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