The surface of a trampoline is both squishy and taut, a perfect combination for jumping really high. For personal trainer Lindsay Smither, it's also perfect for boot camp, the high-energy workout featuring squats, relays, push-ups, crunches, jumping jacks and other calisthenics in the space of an hour.
She usually is an exercise drill sergeant on the ground, leading boot-camp classes at Longwood Park in Sarasota. The wall-to-wall trampoline at Jumpin Fun Sports in Lakewood Ranch lets her add airborne bounce for a workout that is gentle on joints and high in intensity.
Smither dubbed the trampoline workout JumpRobics. The unsteady trampoline surface is what adds some extra oomph.
"It's like the difference between walking on solid ground and walking on the beach. You have to fight against the surface, just like you do when you're walking on sand," said Smither.
She teaches JumpRobics twice a week at Jumpin Fun Sports. On a recent Wednesday, class participants were breathless and sweating. And smiling. After all, they were on a trampoline, just like kids.
After a warm-up, the first 35 to 40 minutes of the workshop is nonstop bouncy calisthenics, including a variety of push-up styles. Every six minutes, Smither calls for a quick water break, then it's back to work.
People can burn through a lot of calories. After one class, two women showed Smither their fitness watches that track calorie burn. One had expended 1,100 calories, according to her watch. The other had zipped through 900.
The heart rate accelerates during JumpRobics, which builds endurance. Meanwhile, stabilizer muscles must stay engaged to keep the body upright.
"It's almost like you're getting a double workout," said Jacquie Gee, an eighth-grade teacher who was at the class.
"You're really working on your core. By adding that jumping, you have to kind of maintain your balance," said Gee, who is 37.
Most people will be able to do JumpRobics, although it might be a lot of cardio all at once for those who don't usually exercise, said Smither. The fun factor and intensity are good for people who have drifted away from exercise and want to reignite their fitness routines, she said.
"This is really fun and different. How many years has it been since we've all had fun on a trampoline?" said Ruth Morford, 48, at the class on Wednesday.
Many JumpRobics students discover the class when dropping off their kids at the trampoline park.
"This is the first time there is something that I can actually do with my teenage kids," said Morford. Her teenagers, age 17 and 13, don't do JumpRobics but are busy in other parts of the park while mom takes her fitness class.
As in traditional boot camps, a section of JumpRobics is devoted to abdominal work such as crunches and sit-ups. Abdominal work can always inspire an "ugh" from people who don't like it. The give of the trampoline might help them cheat a little during sit-ups, but the workout is still intense, said Smither.
The class finishes up before the cool-down with another burst of intensity: relay races. Because of the wobbly surface, they look a little like sack races but without the sacks.
Not only must students move quickly during relays, they also have to keep from falling down, which calls on coordination and agility.
"To make sure you don't fall down, every step counts," said Smither. "Some people do fall, but thank goodness, it's a trampoline."
Smither is also a Zumba instructor and has been experimenting with trampoline Zumba, but making the popular dance exercise airborne is still in development.
IF YOU GO
When: 5:30 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays
Where: Jumpin Fun Sports, 7321 Trade Court, Lakewood Ranch
Cost: Classes are $10 each
Information: 941-388-5867 or visit www.jumpinfunsports.com
Susan Hemmingway, Herald health correspondent, can be reached at email@example.com.