Leslie Goldman demystifies and debunks weird and wonderful trends in health and fitness.
Don't let my swan-like, 5-foot-11-inch limbs fool you: I am a klutz of epic proportions. I have fallen off couches while seated, strode forehead-first into streetlamps and once set a pillow -- along with my right wrist -- on fire while attempting to be romantic with my husband.
So when I received a press release from JuggleFit promising "a fun workout that tones the body, boosts brainpower and improves coordination," I was a tad hesitant. The last time I threw anything in the air in an attempt to boost my game, it was a 10-pound medicine ball my trainer forced me to hurl against a wall; I ended up with a jammed finger, but killer quads!
As it turns out, Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Greene has attributed his stellar hand-eye coordination to juggling. Baseball, basketball, tennis and racquetball players could also benefit, said LA-based fitness and lifestyle consultant Ashley Borden (she trains Reese Witherspoon and Mandy Moore, among others.) Try it, starting out with scarves. Nobody ever knocked themselves unconscious with chiffon ... at least, not yet.
Some other popular retro workout fads:
Hula hooping: New research presented at June's Annual Meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine found that gyrating your hips to and fro for 30 minutes is as effective, cardio-wise, as walking at a 4.5 mph pace ... as long as a flaming pillow doesn't break your stride, that is.
Besides the heart-pumping benefits, "the hoop's movement pattern around your waist makes your entire abdominal wall contract, which is good for any sport," Borden said. She notes it won't promote rotational power or offer powerful lower abdominal work. Try a Hoopnotica weighted hoop for a hard-core challenge. Gabrielle Reece and snowboarder Hannah Teter get their hoop on.
Shoot or pass? If it keeps Laird Hamilton happy it's good enough for me. Shoot!
Trampoline: Former Olympic mogul skier Jonny Moseley and X Games athlete Sarah Burke have bounced around at San Francisco's House of Air indoor trampoline facility; enhanced airtime lets them perfect tricky aerial moves in a safe and controlled environment. Borden, herself an air conditioning fan, recommends the trampoline for any athlete as an excellent, low-impact cardio workout. You needn't refinance your mortgage to purchase a monster backyard tramp -- try a mini rebounder from Needak.
Shoot or pass? Rock that tramp stamp. Shoot.
Jane Fonda-style aerobics: The godmother of aerobics videos remains insanely popular and I am hardly one to pass an opportunity to wear thigh-high leg warmers. But Borden warns that often-confusing Fondaholic choreography done too quickly "is an injury waiting to happen." (Check out this video at around 2:10 and tell me that looks safe.) Plus, "old-school aerobics classes are frowned upon today because of studies that showed the aerobic activity pounded joints."
Shoot or pass? Pass ... but can we please look that good when we're 73?