Urban Rebounding: An Essay

Posted on May 22, 2012 by admin

How I feel about trampolines.

Urban rebounding. “Are you serious?” was my thought when Jessie (best friend) suggested we take this group exercise class together. We’ve been at it for the past ten months, but stepping onto that dangerous plane of synthetic black took a medium amount of arm-pulling.

It had something to do with the last time I was on a trampoline, the summer before 9th grade. I was babysitting two neighborhood kids and thought of myself a hip babysitter. You know, the ones who play pretend and hold a similar, if not greater, enthusiasm for whatever the adventure.

They had a giant trampoline in the back yard, and as noon rolled around and lunch settled into our stomachs, we headed outside for a bounce. Jumping up and down is only entertaining for an inch of time. We often needed a set of arbitrary rules or invisible obstacles, like lava, so we could jump with purpose.

On this particular day, we decided that jumping, landing on our butts, and landing back on our feet from the butt-bounce would be amusing for everyone. In the interest of safety, only one person could perform this combination at a time. We didn’t want any unpleasantries.

It was my turn, I executed the moves with ease, and felt so good, I decided to throw in an extra bounce because why not? I was in charge! It was the highest yet! It was unnecessary and flamboyant! I was soaring! Little Johnny* decided to break stride and start before I landed, pushing the horizon of the trampoline down to an unexpected depth. There was a loud crack. There was a crack and there was pain. I could not get up. The two bewildered children, four and eight respectively, looked on in what seemed to be a combination of pity and disdain. I broke my ankle. They ran to get the neighbor. I was not paid that day.

Back to the present adult trampoline dilemma. I did not want to take the class based on the aforementioned life experience and could only vaguely conceive of what to expect. Lucky you, now I can tell you what to expect.

What to expect:

You will bounce on a trampoline, a tiny one, built for a single person, to dance music—anything with an energetic, consistent beat. Our instructor prefers the current sirens of pop. Maybe yours will not.

While bouncing, you must execute a series of moves, most of which are heavily influenced by a combination of martial arts that I don’t understand. Kicking, punching, blocking, sometimes, all at once. It’s structured and very unlike the trampoline aesthetic of most children. Although, there is a little room for freestyle, an approach favored by Frances*, the red-haired woman of nearly seventy often seen in red lipstick, a bright pink unitard, and geometrically patterned tights. She’s my favorite.

It lasts for forty-five minutes. The longest forty-five minutes of your life.

After the first class, I thought, “I will NEVER go back.” Really. It is one of the craziest exercise shticks I’ve attempted and probably the most embarrassing because it acutely highlighted my lack of coordination and rhythm in a very public way. Every class has a front row of trampoline superstars who bounce and kick without effort in their stylish gym outfits and perfect ponytails. YOU KNOW what kind of ponytails I’m talking about. They probably do aerial silks in their spare time.

However, my friend possesses a level of masochism that I admire, so we went BACK. And it was…easier! Not much, just a little, but enough to go back the next week. And the next month. And soon, outside of this gym space, I found myself humming “Disturbia” waiting in line at the bank. Singing the “Party Rock Anthem” under my breath in a way that could convince other patrons at the neighborhood organic/local/grassfed/alterna cafe that I LIKE this song. And I do. It reminds me of the strange new feelings I have while bouncing (see image above to achieve a similar feelings). You’re welcome.

*Name changed to protect real people from the Internet.