Is it just the latest fitness craze or can bouncing on a mini trampoline workout really cure what ails you?
Boosters of “rebounding” say it is much more than just a fun way to get your aerobic exercise.
Joanne Schmalenberger, who is trained as a “reboundologist” and teaches classes in it at Gold’s Gym in Natick, also works with the handicapped, the elderly and others with a host of medical problems that she says can be helped by bouncing.
“It’s not just a fad,” she said. “And a rebounder is not a toy. It is very powerful.”
Most people bounce for the aerobic exercise without the stress on the feet, knees or back. Rebounding produces one-third the impact of such activities as jogging or skipping rope. Rebounding has also been used in rehabilitation centers, to help treat injured backs, knees and ankles, as well as for former heart attack victims and others with heart disease.
But Schmalenberger and others involved in the movement say bouncing up and down on the rebounder – it is like a mini-trampoline, but has more “give” – strengthens every cell in the body and boosts the white blood cell count while flushing toxins from the body.
“It cleans your lymphatic system,” said Schmalenberger, a personal trainer. “It’s great for people with AIDS, cancer, diabetes, you name it.”
She says she has worked with people with cancer, muscular dystrophy and cerebral palsy, as well as children with attention deficit disorder and seniors suffering from osteoporosis.
Although full-sized trampolines have been linked to many injuries in children, the mini-versions, including the rebounders, are small – about three feet in diameter – and so low – just 10 inches off the ground – that injuries are much less likely. And stabilizers can be added for a few dollars more.
Boosters say jumping regularly allows every cell in the body to react and adjust to the changes in gravitational pull of going up and down, strengthening the cells. Indeed, NASA has reportedly studied rebounding for use in the zero gravity of space.
Cleansing of the lymphatic system occurs because rebounding increases the passage of oxygen and nutrients to the cells, backers say.
Bill Hutchinson, 61, of Sherborn, is using rebounding in his fight against leukemia.
He said he was given a short time to live earlier in the year, and credits rebounding, at least in part, for saving his life.
“It really helped,” he said. “It made me feel alive. I would lie in bed in the hospital and think that there was nothing I could do. Then I would get up and get on the rebounder. I did it a little bit every day and I gradually got stronger.”
Susan Smith of Natick has used rebounding to help her son, Slater, 24, who is a quadriplegic as a result of cerebral palsy. She said she has bounced him on the rebounder to help loosen up his tight limbs. “It was wonderful,” she said.
Although he is currently in the hospital, she said she looks forward to using the rebounder again.
“I think it will help his whole system,” she said.