Priya Kulasagaran checks out how trampolines can offer a fun yet high-energy workout at Jumping Fitness Malaysia
Having been an adult for quite a number of years now, it is not often that I get the license to feel as free as a five-year-old in public. So when I had the chance to have a taste of the trampoline fitness craze, courtesy of Jumping Fitness Malaysia, I had to jump on it.
Carefully balancing myself on a hexagonal mini-trampoline, complete with a handlebar to alleviate any fears of falling off, I was under the impression that the workout would be a piece of cake. After a few quick warm-ups, the sensation of being in the air even for just a few seconds felt like a revelation — it almost felt like I was flying. In those moments, I found myself immediately becoming a fan, especially since it felt a lot more enjoyable than just monotonously running to nowhere on a treadmill. Plus, how hard can it be to just have fun, in the name of fitness, by bouncing on a trampoline like a gleeful child?
Fifteen minutes into the session, I realised that it takes a lot more work than I imagined to savour those moments of “flight”.
As the session’s instructor Katie Kang, an incredibly fit and bubbly Korean, led us through a series of increasingly energetic moves, I became aware of muscles I did not even realise were there, particularly around my mid-section. With a backdrop of high-octane music pumping through the speakers, I also found myself pleasantly surprised at being able to follow Kang’s more basic moves despite my complete lack of coordination. The more complex choreography however, was rather beyond my ability in one session.
“It usually takes our clients about four to five sessions to get used to the rhythm and bounce,” says Jumping Fitness Malaysia founder Ritchie Lee. “After that, it would take about three months to really master the choreography. Many people do initially come in expecting a trampoline park — and many people think it’s going to be easy. It’s definitely fun, but it does take effort as it is a full-body workout.”
Originating from the small town of Tábor in the Czech Republic, Jumping Fitness was developed by spinning and aerobics instructors Jana Svobodová and Tomáš Buriánek. The exercise became a hit in South Korea around 2014, which was when Lee chanced upon it himself.
Leap of faith
Lee has always been passionate about fitness and sport. A former competitive badminton player, playing as a state representative for his home state of Penang for over 10 years, Lee went on to pursue his tertiary education in South Korea and stayed on after getting a job there. As the Jumping Fitness craze hit the country, Lee also happened to be looking for a workout that was ideal for him.
“After all the high jumps and smashes from playing badminton, I developed quite a bad knee injury. I think I’ve had my tendons and ligaments torn about four times. But I still loved working out; I get real satisfaction from sweating it out, and the endorphins can be addictive; it just makes me feel good. So I tried out Jumping Fitness, and after the first class, I loved it so much I signed up for the instructor course!” shares Lee.
After a few years of juggling between his day job as an engineer and a part-time instructor, Lee decided to take his passion further. “I realised that this is where my real interest is in, and I want to be part of creating a healthier community here in Malaysia. I wanted to encourage my friends to live a more active life as well. So I quit my stable job, took a leap of faith, and came back home,” he says. Securing himself as the main licenser of Jumping Fitness in Malaysia, Lee set up his studio in Bukit Jalil in December last year.
Lee believes that since this form of exercise is a low-impact one, it is a good start for those for who have never worked out before. He explains that many of the choreography routines improve the body’s core muscles; namely the abdominal muscles, back muscles, as well as the muscles around the pelvis. “Not only does strengthening the core muscles improve your body’s ability to do more physical work, but this also helps your body’s posture. If you start out with bad posture, it can lead to other health problems when you age, because of all the stress on your spine. Back in Korea, even older adults found that their aches and pains lessened after our workouts; my oldest student there was in his 70s!” says Lee.
Those looking at weight-loss may be eager to learn that a Jumping Fitness workout session can help you lose up to between 600 to 1,000 calories, with an average session lasting around 45 minutes to an hour. “More importantly, it also helps you lose belly fat, which according to studies is the number one sign that you may have medical problems such as high-blood pressure, diabetes, or heart issues,” adds Lee.
Thanks to the dance-like routines instructors use, the workout also does go a long way in improving one’s balance and coordination. “The choreography is a mix of basic aerobics steps, as well as some K-pop dances and Latin routines like Zumba,” explains Lee. “The music also helps with the psychology of keeping our clients motivated; we use songs that are between 130 to 140 beats per minute, and when you’re listening to energetic music, your body can’t help but move.”
While Lee has not personally experienced clients getting injuries from participating in the exercise, he stresses that there are a number of safety precautions in place. “So for example, we remind clients to lean forwards when they’re on the trampoline, because otherwise there is a chance of you losing your balance and falling backwards. You also have to be mindful with the way you jump, it’s not the same as being on a hard surface. On a trampoline, you have to make sure you land flat on your feet, rather than on your toes,” he explains.
Lee also has a vision to help those who wish to pursue fitness as a full-time endeavour. Aside from offering instructor courses, featuring international “master” trainers, the way Lee runs his business is to build a community of like-minded individuals rather than focusing on cut-throat competition. “I guess it’s inspired by what I saw in Korea; many of the businesses are run by families, and there is a sense of community. So anyone who wants to set up their own Jumping Fitness in their neighbourhood can approach us, and we offer the brand for free. The only thing is that they have to purchase the trampolines from us, because we want to maintain the quality of the equipment being used. The idea is that if there are more instructors and studios, the higher the chance of people making the first step in living a healthier and more active life,” he says.