Participants in the bungee workout class at Tough Lotus in Chandler stretch in the air.
Reinert Toft/Cronkite News

People who walk into Tough Lotus for the bungee workout class often have the same reaction.

“It’s crazy,” said Amanda Paige, owner and operator of the fitness gym. “First of all, you’ll see it and you think it’s going to be so much fun and it doesn’t look like it’s going to be that hard. It is so much harder than you think it is and it’s even more fun than you think it is.”

The bungee workout is a new fitness routine that originated in Thailand about two years ago and is springing into gyms around the country. The workout combines aerial fitness, dancing, core workouts, aerobics and toning.

The harness used in the workout looks like one from a rock climbing gym. The bungees, suspended from the ceiling, pull on students as they perform exercises that resemble sequences from an action movie.

“We were both studio-trained, competitive dancing from the time we were 4 and 2,” said participant Gillian Grabowski, referring to her and her sister, Allison. “So we grew up dancing, and this isn’t like any other workout we’ve ever done. This is even harder than dancing, I think. There’s a lot more core and …”

“You use different muscles,” said Allison, finishing her sister’s sentence. “My legs are still shaking.”

When Paige first saw the video of the bungee workout in Thailand, she fell in love with it. A sign in her gym says, “Master Training Center, 1st in the United States.”

“I called them. I said, ‘Hey, how do I get this out here?’ I flew to Thailand. I spent two weeks out there (and) became a master trainer,” Paige said.

The class lasts 75 minutes. Paige has her students do a 15-minute pre-workout stretch to make sure the body is loose before she has her students put on the harness.

“I always tell them, ‘You’re going to feel a little lift.’ So, I hook it onto their lower back and they go ‘ooooh,’” Paige said.

Once the harnesses are on, the students do squats and pushups. Paige also has them walk and lean forward in the harness to have them engage their core muscles.

All the little steps are meant to teach the students an important lesson when doing the bungee workout.

“You have to think about it this way: The bungee cord, its job is to pull you up to the ceiling,” Paige said. “So your job is to pull it down.”

“To do that you have to use core, you have to use quads and hamstrings to keep it low. The lower you go, the higher you’re going to release up into the air.”

In order to be successful in pulling off the moves in the class, a 100 percent effort is required or the bungee will take control, Paige said.

“People want to do the moves, they want to fly, they want to jump from their hands to their feet so it literally pushes them harder than anything else because they want to do it,” Paige said.

She has her workouts follow the flow of the upbeat songs she plays during the class, like “Sweet Dreams” by the Eurythmics, “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” by the Rolling Stones.

Ever since Paige brought the workout to the United States, she has received nonstop calls from people trying to open bungee workout studios.

“I was very grateful, because when I purchased this studio it was an aerial studio, so it was rigged for aerial work,” she said. “It was a very easy installation for me. (People) came in from Las Vegas to rig this. It’s all professionally done. It’s not just your traditional ceiling. There’s a lot to it.”

Paige is hoping to expand the program. There are more advanced dances, including the vertical wall, which also involves a harness, but the class is able to utilize more of the room, including running and bouncing along walls, flying higher for longer periods of time and being able to perform flips.

“When we get a bigger location, then we can add that vertical wall and do that but right now we don’t have the space for it here,” Paige said. “It’s fun though. I did it when I was out there.”

Paige plans to open new bungee classes to cater to a wider audience.

“We have a bungee fit that I’m about to introduce,” she said. “It’s going to be no combo, more like one song of just lunges, one song of just pushups. It’s go, go, go like that.”

Paige also has in mind a class for those who are older or injured who need to go at a slower pace, and a bungee workout for kids.

For those who aren’t used to being active, Paige advises building up endurance before participating.

Her requirements for the class are still simple. “If you can go for a walk or a run or whatever, come on give it a try.”

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