Picture yourself wearing space-age shoes, jumping to new heights with little impact on your joints — almost as if you’re on the moon. Sounds like a fun activity, right? Well, it’s actually a form of exercise called Kangoo Jumps  that’s growing by leaps and bounds in Israel.

Like Zumba, Tae Bo and TRX, Kangoo Jumps (KJ) is a branded fitness program with certified instructors. Other than that, this form of exercise is completely in a league — or stratosphere — of its own.

For starters, it’s based on rebounding — a jumping motion done through repetitive intervals or simple dance combinations. It also entails one very conspicuous piece of equipment: Kangoo Jumps shoes, which look like rollerblades refitted with treads instead of wheels.

KJ shoes were first developed decades ago to help rehabilitate injured athletes by reducing impact stress and protecting the ankles, knees, spine, hips and lower back.

But it’s not the science behind the shoes that makes them fun. It’s the spring they add to your step, and Israelis are jumping right in.

Growing leaps and bounds

Kangoo Jumps has been available in the global fitness community for over half a decade. More recently, 28-year-old fitness instructor Liza Hazan brought the program to Israel, where it has experienced rapid growth.

“Three and a half years ago, I saw [KJ] on Youtube. At the time I was a trampoline instructor and was looking for new ideas,” Hazan tells ISRAEL21c. “I was like, ‘Oh my God, I want to do this, why isn’t it in Israel?’ Then I flew to Romania to do my instructor license.”

Liza Hazan’s class in Rishon LeZion. Photo via Facebook
Liza Hazan’s class in Rishon LeZion. Photo via Facebook

Originally starting with one class per week, Hazan now teaches every day in Tel Aviv, Netanya, Ramat Gan, Rishon LeZion and Krayot near Haifa. She holds most classes in local gyms but also receives some unique opportunities to teach elsewhere.

“I was invited by the [Israeli] Air Force to do a class for soldiers and officers in Mitzpeh Ramon,” Hazan says. “It was crazy, they had so much energy! It was their first time trying it, and they really had fun.”

Corporate clients, like high-tech company Mellanox in Yokne’am, have also invited Hazan to lead classes for employees.

She can’t meet the demand alone, so she also trains other instructors to keep pace with the Kangoo craze. Twice in the past year, she held trainer sessions at sports-training facility Wingate Institute, where she certified a total of 10 other KJ instructors, including Rachely Batan of Royal Fitness in Rishon LeZion.

“My [KJ] classes are growing each week,” says Batan, who added KJ to her repertoire in April. “People are going crazy for it; they’re telling their friends and family. We don’t have enough shoes. We have more interest in the class than I have shoes to provide.”

Low impact, good fun

“The first thing you see when the person puts on the shoes and gets balanced is a smile,” says Liza’s husband Oran Hazan, who helps manage class registration — not to mention transporting 20 pairs of shoes that each weigh more than six pounds (3kg). “It’s a different, fun feeling; like you’re on a trampoline but you can go from place to place.”

Fun aside, it is still exercise with the goal of toning, weight loss and improving overall cardiovascular health. The constant jumping motion maintains an increased heart rate throughout the class, and the average person burns up to 750 calories per hour, Liza Hazan explains. With its roots in sports medicine, Kangoo is also ideal for anyone who wants an intense workout without the wear and tear.

“When I was in the army, I twisted my ankle during a run and, because I didn’t rest enough afterwards, I got some nerve damage,” says Rachel Geva, who started Kangoo classes last September. “So, I can’t do many other types of sports, even swimming. But Kangoo is perfect for me, and it’s fun.”

While Kangoo instructors provide the shoes during class at no extra cost, some people opt to purchase their own and train in addition to or outside of class. When worn in public, however, Kangoo shoes won’t only raise your heart rate, but also lots of eyebrows.

“I like to run in the park [with my shoes],” says Liron Ben Moshe, who began training a year ago. “Every single time, people stop me and ask, ‘What are those?’ But, it’s okay; I don’t mind when they ask questions.”

The fascination with Kangoo Jumps appears to be pretty universal, whether from passersby or someone booting up for the first time (in which case, many people snap a selfie).

Rachely Batan's Kangoo Jumps class. Photo via Facebook
Rachely Batan’s Kangoo Jumps class. Photo via Facebook

Perhaps our inner urge to jump around is greater than we think.

“It’s like when you’re a kid, the first thing you wanted to do was get on your bed and just jump, jump, jump! People can connect to that when they see Kangoo,” Hazan says.

As for the particular popularity in Israel, Liza and Oran Hazan point to two things: Israelis love discovering new trends and embracing new challenges.

For more information on Kangoo Jumps in Israel, click here.