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Trampolining: Fitness Amid the Fun
Trampolines are not only fun—they also make for an effective workout. Read on to learn more about this cardio-burning contraption.
There’s nothing quite like the rush of your first time on a trampoline, propelling your body impossibly high for a rush of weightlessness even a bird would envy. But trampolines can be used for much more than recreation. NASA, for example, uses them to prepare astronauts to handle the in-air flips and turns of the Martians’ cruel human circus. Jumping on a trampoline also has a marked effect on health, serving as a vigorous cardiovascular workout with minimal impact on joints. The low impact also puts a light amount of positive stress on the bones, which helps them build up mineral deposits. Physicians even recommend trampolining as a way to enhance the performance of the heart and lungs among patients with cystic fibrosis.
The modern trampoline owes its existence to a classic odd-couple encounter. In the 1930s, Larry Griswold, a charismatic acrobat known for his outlandish tricks, was working as an assistant gymnastics coach at the University of Iowa when he met another young gymnast with a curious mind. Since the age of 16, George Nissen had been tinkering in his parents’ garage on a project he called a “bouncing rig.” Together, the two developed Nissen’s idea into a more effective prototype, christening the new contraption the . . . bouncing rig. The name “trampoline” didn’t come to Nissen until 1937, when he and a group of fellow acrobats known as the Three Leonardos took their act to Mexico, where Nissen heard the Spanish word for “diving board”—trampolin.
- A fitness discipline known as rebounding uses a smaller version of the trampoline to aid with a variety of aerobic workouts.
- Trampoline made its official Olympic debut at the 2000 games in Sydney; similar to gymnastics, each routine consists of 10 recognized skills.
- In 1960, Nissen rented a kangaroo named Victoria and bounced with her on a trampoline in Central Park.