Last week, the ladies of Greatist strapped on funny looking footwear and bounced our way into a full-on sweat fest. While waiting to pick out our shoes, we sat in anticipation in the studio at New York Health and Raquet Club. Only one of us had tried Kangoo before.
Then, we strapped into our jumping shoes — the fixture of this high-intensity aerobic class. They look a lot like rollerblades, but instead of a set of wheels, the bottom of the shoe is a bow-shaped platform that not only made us look like giants (or total supermodels) but also acted as mini trampolines. The premise of the clunky and funny looking footwear is to reduce impact (allegedly up to 80 percent compared to the same exercise with normal shoes). To the beat of Gangham Style and other fast-paced songs, we squatted, pulled some 360s, booty popped, and one-two stepped. Our instructor Mario, who was the first trainer to teach Kangoo in the U.S., spared us no breaks in the 45 minute session, and he was sweating just as hard as the rest of us. There wasn’t a whole lot of instruction — it was all “monkey see, monkey do” for the entirety of the class, but it was fairly easy to follow regardless. Mario jumped around up front (somehow managing some pretty impressive dance moves at the same time) and we followed his every step… until some of us got slightly lost and fatigued toward the end. With a loud clap we were quickly conditioned to rotate 180 degrees or switch up our footing. Halfway through, he paused the music to tell us that it was actually OK to straighten our knees — it’s best to jump with straightened legs because the shoes take on all the impact. This type of exercise, known as rebounding, has some science to back its low impact, high endurance claims. Kangoo regulars report decreased injury, and one study found that three weekly Kangoo sessions improved participants’ average VO2 peak (a predictor for VO2 Mac, which is considered a good measure of cardiovascular fitness and aerobic endurance) by about 18 percent after four months. The study’s group that ran in regular shoes had only a four percent increase. What was our consensus? The class was definitely tough. It was a heart-pumping 45 minutes and most of us were a little sore the next day. Kangoo is one of the goofiest looking (and feeling) fitness classes out there, but when we returned to the office, we couldn’t stop saying how much fun we had. If you’d like to hop around like a ‘roo, Kangoo classes are now offered in 22 states and most major U.S. cities. Make sure to bring along shin-high socks and a ready and willing attitude. Have you tried Kangoo? What did you think? Let us know in the comment section below or tweet the author @nicmcdermott. Photo by Jordan Shakeshaft