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'Kangoo' boot camp ideal way to jump back into exercise (4 photos)

Kangoo Boot Camp, offered at Tudhope Park, boasts fitness benefits of a boot camp in a fun environment; 'It's just a fun way to exercise,' says instructor

Most people who take part in fitness classes or are members of a local gym will be familiar with the term, “boot camp.” It often brings on feelings of apprehension, or even dread. Participants are challenged in a high intensity training workout using military-style drills and calisthenics to push the limits of their endurance and strength. 

What if you could get the fitness benefits of a boot camp, but have lots of fun at the same time? Apparently you can – according to the participants of the “Kangoo Boot Camp” offered in Tudhope Park this summer.

The fun starts with the boots. In this boot camp, the participants actually wear boots. And not just any boots; these are rebounders that make you feel like you’re wearing mini trampolines on your feet.

Although the activity has been known as bouncing or rebounding, the name “Kangoo” comes from the patented Kangoo Jumps boots that were designed in the mid-1990s as rehabilitation for those recovering from knee, hip and back injuries.  

It was soon discovered that the rebounding boots also offer an easy, safe and effective way to train and keep fit. Now the boots are used for boot camps, dance classes and running clinics.

The Kangoo Club Canada website states that, “Together, the boots and fitness programs make working out so much fun, that you won't believe you are actually exercising.”

Melissa McKee, who teaches a Kangoo Boot Camp as part of the Summer Made Fun programs offered by the City of Orillia, says she became addicted to the activity the minute she tried on the boots.

“I first discovered Kangoo about three years ago at the local gym I attended. As soon as I put on a pair of the boots, I felt light, I was jumping around and felt just like a kid – it was so much fun!”

A lifelong fitness advocate and sport competitor, McKee decided to sign up for Kangoo teacher training and she is now a certified Kangoo Boot Camp instructor.

She started out with the city by offering demonstration classes, followed by an the eight-week Boot Camp program in the park. Along with her enthusiastic participants, the program has been gaining attention from those who are intrigued by the bouncing boot campers.

“Every time we’re in the park, somebody stops to ask what we’re doing and why," explained McKee. "They can see we’re all having fun and wonder what the boots are all about.

"Once I explain how the boots reduce impact on the knees and joints by 80%, I see the lights go off. People see an opportunity; maybe it’s a way they can run again or be active in a safe way.”

Cassi Downing, who signed up for the class as a novice, said she was nervous at first.

“I was worried about losing my balance and falling, but I haven’t,” said Downing. “Melissa is an excellent instructor and I really like the mix of exercises in the class. We’re not just running and bouncing. There’s a lot of strength training and agility exercises mixed in.”

“It’s great to be in the park,” added McKee. “We can have fun improvising and often use the benches or trees for push-ups and planks, plus we can cover more distance in the park than in a gym or studio.”

“I like the variety,” said boot camper, Andrea DeBlock-Pole. “I’m not really someone who enjoys running, but with the boots, it’s a lot more tolerable!”

All of the participants agree when it comes to the fitness benefits. They say they are all feeling their muscles working.

“We have sore muscles the next day, but sore in a good way,” explained DeBlock-Pole. “Even wearing the boots is good strength training; it’s like wearing four-pound weights.”

“You’re burning 20% more calories wearing the boots,” explained McKee. “When you’re rebounding, your core is engaged the entire time. And it’s just a fun way to exercise. It’s challenging and exciting and a little bit of nervousness rolled into one.”

McKee says that even though the look of the boots, which she describes as “stiletto shoes with a giant wheel on the bottom,” can be intimidating, it typically only takes five or ten minutes to get used to them and start having fun.

“Once people complete a whole class, they’re pretty proud of themselves. They go home with a sense of accomplishment, thinking ‘I got it done!’”

McKee will be offering the boot camp program again in the fall at the City of Orillia Recreation Centre, and also offers private group and one-on-one sessions. To learn more about how to get started and get bouncing, visit Kangoo Club Orillia on Facebook.