Alex Kakabaker is literally jumping around Grand Rapids helping people get fit.
The shoes feel similar to snowboard boots or rollerblades and were initially developed for physical rehabilitation. Kakabaker said in the 1990s someone realized the opportunity to use the shoes for fitness.
Kakabaker first saw a Kangoo Jumps-based fitness class on social media. “I found a viral video on Facebook and watched it over and over again,” she said.
As someone who grew up doing cheer and dance, Kakabaker said working out in a gym didn’t appeal to her, so she was excited to find a fitness class that was more inline with activities she enjoys.
“I went to Detroit and took a class and fell in love with it,” she said.
From there, Kakabaker got her group exercise certificate license and went through Kangoo Jumps certification. She is only the second person in Michigan teaching Kangoo Jumps classes.
Kakabaker offers three Kangoo dance classes each week. On Sundays you can find her at the Blue Bridge in downtown Grand Rapids, on Wednesdays she teaches a class in Hudsonville and on Fridays she teaches the class at her family’s business Cakabakery in Eastown.
She also works with interested individuals on one-time classes. For example, next month she is doing a special class on an outdoor basketball court for a group.
“The classes are portable, because I can take the equipment anywhere,” she said. “They can be held outdoors or indoors. The boots work on any type of floor.”
Kakabaker said the classes offer several benefits, including a great cardio workout. “It’s all cardio. One class burns about 800 calories,” she said. “The class runs 55-minutes, with about 40-minutes of bouncing. We also do some stretching and conditioning. It’s a really good leg workout and really gets you going and gets you sweaty.”
She said the resistance created by the boots is also better for knees and joints. “It reduces the impact on your knees by nearly 80 percent. It uses all your leg muscles in one workout. It’s a lot of fun. You’re dancing and bouncing. It releases a lot of endorphins.”
Kakabaker said the two biggest barriers she’s encountered in getting people to try the class are a fear of falling and an expectation that someone needs to be in great shape to do the workout. But she said people interested in the class don’t need to worry about either of those things.
“Nobody has fallen. The way they are rounded it’s actually hard to fall in them,” she said. “You can’t fall in them unless you are squatting and too low. It does have a safety feature, too. If your ankle rolls the bottom would snap off, so the boot would break instead of your ankle. They are super safe. It takes a second of walking around in them and then you get used to them, like rollerblades.
“You don’t have to be in incredible shape to do it either. It’s something to do for fun. I work at a bakery; I eat sweets all day. At night I get to bounce it off.”
Kakabaker said she keeps the classes at a medium level and offers variations so people can make the workout more or less challenging. She also said there is a lot of repetition, which helps participants to get comfortable with the boots and the workout.
Kakabaker said Grand Rapids has been a great place to offer Kangoo dance classes. “Grand Rapids is such a good city to do new things in,” she said. “The support’s been good and I’ve had a good response so far.”
She said the Sunday and Friday night classes are often full and her Wednesday night class is near capacity most nights.
Because there is a limited supply of boots and sizes, Kakabaker said people do need to sign up online for individual classes to ensure a spot. The cost is $12 per class and the price includes boot rental. Participants should wear tall socks similar to what they’d wear for rollerblading to class.