Why the trampoline is better than the gym
© Micheal Darter; Red Bull Content Pool

10 ways the trampoline is better than the gym

Replace grunting with laughter, pain with fun and lifting with bouncing – welcome to the bounce revolution.
Written by Sacha Shipway
7 min readPublished on
There’s something to the bounce craze that has really, ahem, taken off. Here are 10 reasons why hitting the trampoline is even better than the gym and why doing it will make you fitter for any sport.
Plus, who better than Olympic silver trampoline medalist Bryony Page, to explain how to perfect some of these moves? She may be better known for performing back-to-back somersaults, but you have to start somewhere…

1. Anyone can do it

There are no pre-requisites for trampolining – you don’t have to be the captain, the fastest or the biggest to be good at it. You can be tall, short, heavy, light and the trampoline will still bounce back. So you really have no excuse to get moving.
Exercise: Jumping. Start off with the basics and just get bouncing.
Directions: “Land with your feet shoulder/hip width apart for stability” says Bryony. “Jump up by pushing the trampoline down, extending your legs straight and pointing your toes as you leave the trampoline. Use arm swings for balance and control.”

2. Low impact

Lots of sports regularly induce knee and ankle injuries, but not so trampolining, which cushions the joints instead of wearing them away. You can use bouncing as a way to strengthen the muscles and joints for prehab or even as a way to rehabilitate yourself following an injury.
Exercise: Single leg tiptoe. If you can do this on an unstable surface like a trampoline you’ll condition your ankle and calf muscles really well.
Directions: Balance on one leg and rise up off the heel onto your toes. Repeat 10 times and then switch to the other leg.

3. Cardio fitness

A study in 2016 that measured jumpers’ heart-rates and oxygen expenditure found that trampolining was as good for you as running, biking or playing basketball but felt less intensive. Even NASA scientists agree that rebounding is 68 percent more effective than jogging. So you can quite literally cheat your way to a better cardio workout without the mental battle. Win-win.
Exercise: Tuck jumps. This one will really get your heart racing.
Directions: “Jump up and at the top of your jump make the shape," advises Bryony. "For a tuck shape, you want to bend your legs and pull them into your body, holding your shins to become a small ball. Then kick out as soon as you can back into your straight position to land on your feet for the landing.”

4. The endorphin release will leave you with a huge smile

It’s a well-known fact that exercising releases endorphins, which makes you happy. But trampolining makes you really happy and one of the telltale signs is the smile plastered on your face the entire time. It gets you fit for other sports and always feels like a treat. Enjoyment is a major factor in motivation levels and it’s why you’re more likely to keep doing it week in, week out.
Exercise: Fast feet. It’ll really get your heart racing and those endorphins pumping.
Directions: This is like running on the spot, (except on the trampoline). You’re not looking to bounce particularly high, but instead, lift one foot after the other slightly off the surface. The faster, the better.

5. Different forms of exercise are necessary

At the gym you’re taught to mix things up and do different exercises or patterns of training. This is all so that your body doesn’t become used to a way of moving and therefore stops improving. So, do something totally different, train different parts of your body, feel muscles you haven’t felt for a while and get bouncing. It’ll improve your fitness and muscle tone thanks to the change in your routine.
Exercise: Bounce squats: working the same muscles as normal squats but encouraging ankle and knee stability by doing it on an uneven surface.
Directions: "Begin bouncing normally", says Bryony, "ensuring your feet are hip-width apart when you land. And, every time you do come back down, slowly lower into a squat, making sure your knees are at a 90-degree angle. As you get up, push your feet off the surface so you go straight back into a jump. This will make you super strong in no time."

6. Improve your flexibility

Range of motion is important in sport (and life). It’s nice to be able to reach your toes but becoming suppler will ultimately enable you to become better at your own sport by strengthening and lengthening muscles and therefore improving flexibility.
Exercise: Straddle. Bonus points for people who can reach their toes mid-air.
Directions: "This is similar to the tuck jump, where you want to get into the shape at the top of your jump, but this time, in the straddle position” says Bryony. “Lift your legs up in front of you, but apart, keep the legs straight and toes pointed. Try and reach up into the jump with your arms and then reach your toes when you make the shape. Once you have shown the straddle position, open out from the shape into a straight position ready to land on your feet for the next jump."

7. Full body co-ordination

Co-ordination is important in sport because it enables you to move everything smoothly and efficiently. When you trampoline you’re moving everything, coordinating arms and legs while maintaining balance in mid air. All of these skills put you in greater control of your body by improving your co-ordination and kinesthetic awareness, which makes you better at other sports too.
Exercise: Alternate high knees. Lift up one knee to the chest, then the other. If you can introduce alternate arms you’re onto a winner.
Directions: Similar to high knees on the ground, start lifting your right knee up to your chest, as you lower it, bring up the left knee and repeat. You should be aiming to land on your toes so that you can get your knees up as quickly as possible.

8. Improve your eyesight – seriously!

Surprisingly, trampolining can improve your ocular motor skills – AKA your eyesight. Because you’re moving up and down your eyes have to constantly readjust which strengthens the muscles in the eyes that are responsible for tracking objects. Your trampolining obsession could just be the reason why you saw the ball, your opponent, or that wave quicker than you used to.
Exercise: Half turn. See how quickly you can find a focal point every time you turn.
Directions: Bryony says: “This is like a straight jump, but push one foot harder than the other to initiate a twist motion to face the other way when you land for the next jump.”

9. Your bones get stronger

Jumping encourages your bones to build up mineral content. Each landing from a jump is equivalent to twice the force of gravity. This enables you to increase the density of your bones, which helps to prevent brittle bone disease or osteoporosis. Ultimately, trampolining will keep your body protected and enable you to do the sports you want for longer.
Exercise: Star jumps. Because Mario.
Directions: “Jump up into the air and extend straight arms and legs to the side to make a star shape” Bryony explains. “Return to a nice straight position ready for landing."

10. One day you might be able to do something like this...

There's no limit to what you can push your body to achieve on a trampoline. Even the ludicrously talented Bryony Page started her career with the basics. Tucks and straddles may just be the start, so get out there and have fun.