Health and wellness

Rebounder training, a shock absorber for joints – new to Asia, with first studio open in Hong Kong

Hongkonger Lucia Tam used a rebounder during rehabilitation after an injury, and was so impressed she opened a studio in Sheung Wan, where her Bounce classes offer a fun way to get fit and strengthen your core

PUBLISHED : Monday, 20 November, 2017, 6:32pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 November, 2017, 11:09am

With the lights down low, everyone starts jumping to the beat of the music, while LED lights beneath our feet flash in different colours. This sounds like a disco, but it’s not. We are in a gym, and rather than the dance floor, we are balancing on rebounders.

This is LED Game Night, one of 10 different classes offered at Bounce Limit, a rebounder training studio in Sheung Wan.

A rebounder looks like a mini-trampoline, but the technique of jumping on the two is quite different. On a regular trampoline, you aim to jump as high as you can; with a rebounder, the aim is to push down into the surface, for a solid workout that can even be used for rehabilitation purposes.

It was, in fact, an injury that first got founder Lucia Tam into rebounding training.

“I was injured with a fracture to my foot and for the longest time, it didn’t heal,” Tam says. Then she started balancing on a rebounder as part of her physiotherapy. “Within a few sessions, it was healing faster than with any of the rehabilitation programmes I’d been doing.” The former professional dancer began researching rebounder equipment and, in 2014, opened Asia’s first rebounder training studio in Hong Kong.

One major benefit of working out on a rebounder is that it absorbs the shock, lessening the impact on knee and ankle joints.

Hong Kong’s latest workout is a Mario Kart race on a gamified stationary exercise bike. We test it

“When you run or jump on concrete, you can feel the joints clamp together and the shock that goes up to the body. That’s not necessarily good for your body, especially when you have an injury or have had an operation,” says Tam. “Rebounding absorbs the impact. And it builds the inner muscles around the injury and starts rehabilitation.”

It does not only apply to running or jumping. You can feel the difference between working out on a yoga mat versus a rebounder when holding yoga poses in the Bounce Pilates class. There is no need to worry about your elbows or knees digging in; the rebounder acts as a soft cushioning and provides support for your lower back.

This is why rebound training is not just great fun for young people, but also good exercise for seniors who are looking to improve their balance and strengthen their muscles without putting too much pressure on their knees. While Bounce Limit has some clients as old as 70, the majority are office ladies. And for them, one advantage of rebound training is that it strengthens the core muscles of the feet, so they are less prone to injuries such as ankle sprains – especially if they wear high heels.

Hong Kong sees 35.6 per cent growth in number of gyms despite high-profile players going bust

With a party atmosphere, LED Game Night is great for newcomers who want to get their first taste of rebound training. Those who are up for a challenge should try Tabata rebound, the ultimate fat burner.

There are six rounds in total: each consists of four sets of exercises – such as high knees, fast run, burpees, plank saw and mountain climb – that are repeated twice. In Tabata, we did each exercise for 20 seconds with as much speed and power as we could, then took a 10-second break before jumping into the next exercise.

The Tabata method – 20 seconds on and 10 seconds off – was developed by Japanese sports scientist Izumi Tabata, who found that doing short bursts of high-intensity exercises improves one’s anaerobic capacity and aerobic power. Don’t underestimate the intensity of this workout. By just the second round, I am drenched in sweat, and huffing and puffing.

Doing simple movements such as lunges, ab twists or squat pulses on a rebounder requires much more muscle control.

Out on the water you are detached – stand-up paddle board yoga is the escape Hong Kong needs, says ‘Real Moana’

“You have to hold your balance to stay on the rebounder, so you are involuntarily holding the core in and activating it,” Tam explains.

Another class Tam recommends is Combat Bounce, a non-contact martial arts/boxing-based workout.

“We do punches and kicks. But the hard part is, you have to balance yourself while exerting that force out,” says Tam. It may be physically taxing, but it’s also incredibly stress relieving.