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Originally published Friday, September 28, 2012 at 11:00 AM

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Trampolining is a big bounce of fitness

Ten minutes in, Fit for Life columnist Nicole Tsong was dripping sweat, panting and taking breaks in front of a massive fan to cool off.

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SkyMania Trampolines

11801 N.E. 116th St., Suite B, Kirkland; 425-825-7599; www.skymaniatrampolines.com

Sky High Sports

1445 120th Ave. N.E., Bellevue; 425- 990-5867; sea.jumpskyhigh.com

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The ones regarded as a health hazard for children are the elevated backyard type. Tram... MORE
The 4 year old in me just screamed "YEA!!!!TRAMPOLINE!!!! let's go, let's go... MORE
Loved playing on the neighbor's trampoline when I was 12. This sounds great. I learned... MORE

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THIRTY MINUTES? That's it? I was at SkyMania, there to check out the new trampoline place in Kirkland. A friend more experienced than I am said 30 minutes would be plenty. I thought it sounded a bit wimpy, but agreed not to push it to an hour.

Four days later, my lower back still feeling it and my quads yelping with every move, my opinion of trampolining as sport changed.

Bouncing on trampolines sounds like an activity for kids. Jump around for a while, throw yourself into the big foam pit or head into the dodgeball arena if you are feeling aggressive. Sure, you'll smile while doing it, but where is the fitness in a trampoline? I secretly pooh-poohed the idea.

Then I did it. Ten minutes in, I was dripping sweat, panting and taking breaks in front of a massive fan to cool off.

Trampoline places are laid out in grids, and they are generally strict about having one person per trampoline square. There are basketball hoops and dodgeball courts and even volleyball setups, but the real fun is bouncing as high as possible, learning to bounce from square to square or flinging yourself against the flexible walls and trying to stay upright. People do flips and other tricks, but I let others take on the cool stuff while I worked on staying on my feet.

But inspired by Olympic gymnasts and divers, I still flung myself — gracelessly — into the foam pit. I learned to throw myself against the walls and figured out how to hop back up on my feet after bouncing on my back and butt. I watched staffers play around with a weighted vest and wondered whether I could master a flip if I dedicated myself long enough.

During the last few minutes of my half-hour, I also noticed my back and core were starting to feel the effects of bouncing. I was a little surprised, but I was more concerned with mastering the perfect arc into the foam pit.

The next day came, along with the soreness in my lower back and abs. My quads quivered with pain. I had trouble reaching for things or taking the stairs. Bouncing also works the lymphatic system, says SkyMania general manager Nancy Burritt, and they let special-needs kids jump for free to help work their whole body.

All I know is my core and legs are not as strong as I thought. My respect for Olympians ballooned tenfold.

I told everyone I saw that I found the most killer workout ever. I don't think anyone believed me. I ventured back a couple weeks later, but the second time my recovery time sped up by three days.

Bouncing is insanely fun. There's nothing like the freedom of jumping higher than you thought you could, bounding from square to square, mastering new tricks and grinning foolishly all the while. If you have kids, it's the perfect way to get your workout in while they play.

Nicole Tsong teaches yoga at studios around Seattle. Read her blog at papercraneyoga.com. Email: papercraneyoga@gmail.com.

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