What Are Bungee Workouts, and Should I Try One?

Strapped around your waist or held overhead, bungees can turn up your workout burn.

If you've ever wondered what it’s like to work out sans gravity or like you’re walking around with trampolines on your feet, give bungee workouts a try. Bungees—basically stretchy, bouncy bands attached to the ceiling that either get harnessed to your waist or held by your hands—add a challenging layer to bodyweight exercises by forcing you to recruit a variety of muscle groups to work against the resistance of the cord.

So how does working out on a bungee help you get fitter and stronger, exactly? We tapped bungee fitness experts to explain the benefits of this unique type of exercise and everything you need to know before you sign up for a class.

What Are Bungee Workouts?

“Bungee fitness is a low-impact, high-intensity cardio workout that has you flying in the air and diving to the ground. The chord is pulling you up so your job is to keep it down and to do that you use a lot of core and legs,” says Amanda Paige, founder and owner of Tough Lotus, a bungee and aerial fitness studio in Chandler, AZ.

Paige, a former professional Broadway dancer, claims to be the first to bring bungee workouts to the U.S. three and a half years ago. “I saw a video of a bungee studio in Thailand and I was intrigued so I booked a flight to Thailand and stayed there for two weeks,” Paige says. She went on to develop her own bungee program and brought the fitness trend stateside. “I opened [Tough Lotus] as an aerial fitness studio focusing on fun fitness. I am a former professional dancer having performed on Broadway for many years so I wanted to provide to others what dance provided for me,” Paige says.

Recently, many bungee fitness studios have opened and expanded across the country, some incorporating a mix of Pilates, yoga, and ballet. For example, ChaiseFitness, which has studios in New York City and New Jersey, employs an overhead bungee system and Pilates chair for their workouts. “Our bungee classes are unique because you grip onto the bungees with handles instead of being strapped into a harness. This helps you engage your core, glutes and upper body more, so the bungees are assisting you but they aren’t doing the work for you,” says Rachel Piskin, co-founder of ChaiseFitness, former ballet dancer and certified Pilates instructor.

The Benefits of Bungee Workouts

In a world where high-intensity interval training (HIIT) classes have dominated many gyms, bungee workouts offer a low-impact complement for those looking to prevent injury. Because bungees pull you against gravity, they also require stability and strength to stay on the ground. All the jumping and bouncing the comes from most classes you’ll take will get your heart pumping, too, Paige says. And while most bungee workouts highlight building lean muscle mass, the dance components demand cardiovascular endurance and coordination, as well. “It also requires balance, which is where the full-body workout comes into play,” Paige says.

Bungee workouts can also help to improve posture, particularly if you hold the bands in your hands, Piskin says. “Posture plays a large role in performing exercises with proper form, so when you’re doing these bungee exercises, the muscles in your back, chest and shoulders work to hold the posture,” she says.

Overhead bungees also assist you in stabilizing because you’re using your upper body and core to hold onto the bungees, instead of a harness catapulting you. “Gripping the bungees for as long as you can allows you to engage specific muscle groups so you can successfully balance,” Piskin says. “This helps you create a strong foundation for the mind-body connection that goes into making your workouts more effective,” she says.

The dance sequences in bungee classes help you learn how to activate your stabilizing muscles to shift your weight from one side of the body to the other while working against the resistance of the cord. This coordination and control component also helps you get more familiar with your body in space. “Body awareness is one of the major improvements I see,” Paige says.

With workouts outside of bungee, you might rely on certain tools to compensate for the lack of stability. Piskin says barre exercises, for instance, can hinder you from improving balance because you might be gripping onto the bar too much. “The bar almost becomes a crutch, but with bungees, if you properly engage your glutes and core, and stand tall with your shoulders in line with your hips, you can transfer weight to one foot properly,” Piskin says. And because bungee workouts involve switching up your stance and performing exercises in various foot positions, Piskin says you become more familiar with how your body is moving and gain better balance.

Who Should Try Bungee Workouts?

If you’re new to working out in general, bungee workouts provide a great foray into fitness, but they are particularly helpful for anyone looking to do low-impact exercises that are easier on the joints. Paige and Piskin say the bungees take away the pressure you may put on unstable joints when using weights, running, or doing HIIT-style workouts.

“Being a former dancer, I love the fact that I can fly through the air without the fear of landing heavy on my ankle or knee because the chord is going to support me. It's great for people who want the cardio workout they would get from running but without all the major impact on your joints,” Paige says. However, Paige recommends you sit things out if you’re currently sidelined with an injury or recently had surgery. Paige also recommends pregnant women avoid bungee classes when they’re harnessed around the waist, as this can be dangerous for the baby.

Another thing to consider is that most bungee harness classes have a weight restriction. At Tough Lotus, the weight limit is 250 pounds and the max measurements are 46 inches for the waist and 26.3 inches for the leg loop. “A trained instructor adjusts the harness to each person individually,” Paige says. If you have any concerns, talk to an instructor at the studio in advance of signing up for a class. (Of course, it’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor to make sure a class like this is a good idea for you, especially if you’re new to working out.)

For a bungee workout with the bands overhead, like at ChaiseFitness, pregnant women can sign up. “Pregnant and postpartum women are able to do all of ChaiseFitness’ bungee classes with slight modifications,” Piskin says. “Our classes are good for pre- and post-natal because they train the core and lower body to prepare you for labor and strengthen the muscles after delivery,” she explains. (That said, if you’re pregnant or gave birth recently, it’s best to talk to your doctor before starting a new workout. Also, let your instructor know so they can provide modifications.)

Piskin notes that people in their 50s, 60s and 70s find using bungees to be more effective in restoring lean muscle mass. “Older people with osteoporosis can benefit from the weight-bearing exercises and posture-correcting workouts we do,” she says. “People often think the sweatier the workout, the better it is, but that’s not our focus. With bungees, you’re able to get a challenging workout without the pressure of high-impact moves and still meet your fitness needs.”

What to Expect in a Bungee Workout Class

Before you jump into class (literally!), it’s important to understand the basics of using the bungee system and how to perform exercises safely. Paige requires all newbies to take the Beginning Bungee class at Tough Lotus as an introduction. Many bungee workout studios also have mandatory starter courses for beginners. “The curriculum I developed is very specific and safety is of the utmost importance. No matter what your fitness level or routine is, everyone’s first class is the same, which is why I love it. No one knows what it feels like to be on a bungee and work out so we all start at the same level,” Paige says.

At the beginning of class, you’ll learn some basic techniques on how to execute exercises correctly, Paige says. “The last part of class is continuously running the technique you learned and that is where cardio takes the lead. The more advanced you get, the harder the technique and the less down time you have,” she says.

Piskin says all first timers at ChaiseFitness must arrive 15 minutes before class begins to get a proper introduction to the equipment and the type of exercises you’ll be doing. “We have some signature moves that aren’t always traditional. For example, the Chaise squat uses resistance around your legs while holding onto the bungees so you’re using your upper body too. The signature Chaise pike involves using resistance from the springs in the chair and the bungees,” Piskin says. You’ll also use the bungees to do variations of reverse ab crunches, supermans and swimmers, Piskin says.

As for common bungee exercises, you can expect to do variations of classic bodyweight moves, such as squats, lunges, push-ups, planks and crunches. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re easier, though. “A squat doesn’t feel like a squat and a lunge doesn’t feel like a lunge. Overtime you dive towards the floor and you have to have the correct resistance of the chord in order to complete the move,” Paige explains. Be prepared for a lot of dance-inspired exercises and explosive movements, including jumping and running. “I always recommend that you can make it through an aerobics class before trying it just because the cardio is what surprises people the most,” she says. FYI, bungee classes at Tough Lotus are 75 minutes long, but most bungee classes run 45 minutes to an hour.

Depending on the workout studio, some gyms offer different types of bungee classes. Tough Lotus, for example, has more advanced bungee classes catered towards reaching certain fitness goals, like strength, endurance and stamina. ChaiseFitness also has a repertoire of bungee workouts, including those that focus on more upper body or cardio.

Other bungee studios, like The Aviary in Minneapolis, MN, have bungee kickboxing and HIIT-style workouts. Studio Bungee in Marietta, GA also has special classes for people over 60.

What to Wear for a Bungee Workout

Piskin recommends people wear fitted, moisture-wicking workout clothing to class. This way you’re better able to see the way your body moves when standing in front of a mirror, and the instructor can easily make adjustments to your form.

Piskin and Paige require everyone to wear socks and sneakers in class. “I provide shorts for extra padding for the harness and ask that you wear no jewelry,” Paige says. And of course, don’t forget a water bottle.

How to Find a Bungee Workout Class Near You

With bungee workouts becoming more popular, studios and gyms across the country are offering group classes and private training. Some Crunch gyms, for instance, have a Bungee Flight: Adrenaline Rush classes that are taught with a bungee sling trainer. Many aerial yoga and TRX studios also offer bungee classes. For remote clients, ChaiseFitness also has an on-demand app that includes resistance band exercises so you can mimic the movement of hand-held bungees at home. Here are some studios in the U.S. that specialize in bungee fitness:

Most bungee classes cost between $20 to $40, and depending on the size of the studio, many classes are taught in small, intimate groups. To look for a bungee studio near you, check out ClassPass or MindBody.

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