Hot Bod is a weekly exploration of fitness culture and its adjacent oddities.
Have you ever trudged on some unforgiving surface — like the sidewalk or most floors — and thought, Hmmm, what if this weren’t so hard and thud-y? What if, rather than needing to bring my spring to my step, this surface actually provided a spring? Cool, yes, so glad to hear that you too have also wished that every surface was a trampoline.
As was the case with most things when I lived in Los Angeles, I went to my first mini-trampoline fitness class because of my favorite L.A. friend, Nora. A child of boundless SoCal energy, Nora is forever on a chic new fitness kick. I am who I am because of her. The exercise studio she took me to was teeming with blond wood and sage smudges and actresses who are fourth-listed on HBO and Netflix credits. I went in laughing about it. An hour of clownish sproinging among these casual glamour-pusses who kept on three sets of tiny gold hoop earrings while working out? I thought it would be high physical comedy. I left unconcerned about gold hoops and where they got them, unconcerned with anything, really, because I only had eyes and affection for one thing, and that was the feeling of bounding around on a mini-trampoline.
Hop over one year and I sproing around on my mini-trampo every day (found for sale on Craigslist, never used, a perfect story). This mini-trampoline is my treasure, my supportive companion that transforms my smallest efforts into sinusoidal marvel. I jump on it while I’m on hold with the electric company, while I wait for my partner to put their shoes on. I stream classes during which instructors tell me to leave a pound of sweat on the trampoline, and I imitate high knees and jumping jacks, a move called surfing and a move called skiing. (Skiing, my favorite, makes me feel like a swizzle stick made of outer thigh muscles.) I love it for being a different version of the ground for me to exist on, when I need to think the base structure of our world is less shitty.
I’ve come to hang around on the mini-trampo so much that when I had to leave it during a weekend visit to my parents, I kept trying to think of ways to justify finagling it into the car. Now, I don’t know if word got around about my mini-trampo separation angst, but when I arrived, my parents told me their neighbors said I was more than welcome to use their kids’ trampoline in the yard. This was not a mini-trampo but a major-trampo. I was not prepared for the enormous flight path this would give to my jumps and wiped out exactly three times.
Unlike the major-trampoline, it’s hard to fall off the mini-trampoline as long as you’re paying attention — and the necessity of paying attention is maybe my favorite part of bouncing. Not in a bullshit face-your-fears way, but there are stakes to your stability. Bounce classes are often filled with tricky moves. Madre, my first bounce-class love, and the Ness, my online go-to, both build up choreography, adding maneuver after maneuver to a series. I’ve become very loyal to Aly, a trainer at the Ness who’s always instructing us to extend our arms: “You’re giving me lyrical, giving me liturgical.” Or we should “be modest with your hamstrings” as we do a Rockette-like high kick. On the ground, these moves would be physically engaging, maybe. On a trampoline, they are completely absorbing. The motions require all my focus, which is so nice to fork over to just one thing.
Life on the trampoline isn’t all harder, by the way, because it’s also so much easier. On the ground, all this jumping is what the fitness experts call “high impact.” This is pretty tough on the skeletal structure, and my particular skeleton is finicky. The mini-trampoline is one of the very few rigorous cardio workouts I’ve found that doesn’t also hurt me in some way (what’s up, stress fractures in my shins since tenth grade, baby!). Because the trampoline is deeply low impact, I can move as hard or fast as I’d like, with no worries I’m banging up my bones. It’s all strain, no pain, baby.
I gush. It’s too much, how much I love my bounce-toy treasure. When I see mini-trampolines while watching movies or TV (in someone’s yard in We Are Who We Are; leaning against a wall behind Tilda Swinton in The Souvenir), I take photos that I realize no one wants, but I send them to Nora, my original bounce-class friend. She’s moved on to something else now.
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