If you have already done your homework about rebounding and are convinced that you want to buy one, then comes the often confusing task of deciding which mini trampoline is the best?
What is a Rebounder?
If you are still deciding whether rebounding for you, then this article on why rebounding is the best full body exercise may help. With so many brands and models of mini trampolines or rebounders in the market, it can often be difficult to figure out what you should invest in.
First off, let me clarify that the term rebounder, mini trampoline and fitness trampoline are used interchangeably in this article. It is a compact and portable piece of fitness equipment usually used for aerobic exercise.
In this article, I will provide an overview of the different types of rebounders, discuss my 5 must-haves for any rebounder, and then share my recommendation of the best mini-trampoline or rebounder to buy for those new to rebounding and why.
Types of Rebounders
Other than in aesthetics and design, rebounders vary in several important ways:
- Springs vs cords
Most rebounders in the market vary between 39 inches to even 50 inches, i.e. 3-4 feet.
Bear in mind that the dimensions you see in the descriptions refer to the overall diameter. So the actual surface or mat area for rebounding will be smaller. How much smaller depends on the particular design.
For instance, the Bellicon 39 inch trampoline offers a 27-inch jumping surface, and the 44-inch rebounder offers 32 inches of space. In contrast, the JumpSport 39-inch trampoline offers a 32.5-35.5 inch jumping surface or jump bed (including the surrounding pad/skirt), and the 44-inch rebounder offers about 38 inches of jumping area.
Traditionally, rebounders used to be round. Nowadays, some rebounders come in a rectangular, octagonal and even oval shapes! Other than aesthetics, does the shape make any difference in the quality of the bounce, safety or in any other way?
For large trampolines, rectangular trampolines are going to offer a higher bounce than a round trampoline as they allow all jumps to rebound equally. Compared to jumping on a round trampoline where the centre of gravity is the middle and so jumping in the centre will provide a higher bounce than jumping on the sides.
In my experience with mini-trampolines, the shape does not matter so much as the quality of the cords or springs and size of the jump bed.
Springs vs Cords
This refers to the shock absorption system of a rebounder and is the most obvious and significant difference for rebounders. Simply put, a spring rebounder is one that uses springs to generate the bounce when jumping while a corded rebounder uses bungee cords.
Generally speaking, spring rebounders offer a harder bounce as there is less elasticity or give with springs than with bungee cords. While a harder bounce is more stressful on the joints as compared to bouncing on a bungee cord rebounder, the stress is still much less than jumping on a hard surface. Spring rebounders also naturally tend to be noisier due to the resulting noise from the springs. In contrast, bungee cord rebounders offer a quieter, smoother, deeper and higher bounce due to the greater elasticity in bungee cords.
However, even within each category of spring vs cord rebounders, the quality and features can vary greatly. Cheaper rebounders often use
cheap and low quality springs which not only offer little support resulting in a harsh bounce, and they may also break easily and require replacement more often. In contrast, there are spring rebounders in the market which are excellent quality and offer a very comfortable bounce.
Rebounders are already considered small in comparison to many other types of fitness equipment. But, there are still aspects to consider if you wish to be able to move your rebounder easily, or be able to store or pack it away.
Here I will consider 3 key aspects which may be important:
- Weight – rebounders can vary drastically depending on the size, material used and build quality. The larger the rebounder and the sturdier the build usually means a heftier rebounder.
- Foldability – while some rebounders have fixed frames which cannot be folded, others may come with removable legs (which you can simply unscrew), be foldable in halves or even quarters. Many foldable rebounders will even come with carry bags with straps for even better portability.
- Stackability – some rebounders are designed to be easily stackable> This is often important where there is a space constraint, such as in a gym or group fitness class environment where the space may be shared with other users or other types of classes.
For greater versatility in your workout, there are a range of add-on options that you can consider:
- Stability bar – these are not just suitable for senior rebounders but also anyone suffering from balance or proprioception issues or recovering from injuries. Stability bars have also become a feature in intensive workouts where rebounders use them as a balancing tool to bounce faster and higher and with more complex moves!
- Resistance bands – some rebounders come with bands that you can attach to workout your arms and upper body.
- Plyometric adaption kits – these convert your rebounder into a plyometric training machine allowing you to perform exercises where muscles exert maximum force in short intervals of time, with the goal of increasing power (speed-strength).
If any of these are important to you, then the rebounder you choose must be a model that is able to accommodate these add-ons.
5 Criteria in Choosing Your Ideal Rebounder
Just as the golden rule for investing in property is “Location, Location, Location!”, the key to buying a rebounder has to be “Quality, Quality, Quality!”
In this section, I share my 5 criteria for choosing a quality rebounder. You would find that unless you have an unlimited budget, there are trade-offs that have to be made in weighing up your choices.
You can buy a rebounder anywhere from tens of dollars to more than a thousand dollars. Pick one that suits your budget while meeting the rest of the criteria below.
This simply means that the rebounder should minimise pain or injury to you and because of this important factor, it would be ideal to either have the chance to test a rebounder yourself before buying or do a lot of research on product reviews. There are various factors here to look at:
- Stability – as you are jumping, it is important to make sure the rebounder does not collapse, buckle or wobble. Some key things to check are that the design of the rebounder is stable and does not tip off easily. Some rebounders have curved legs which are wider than the jump bed for added stability. Also, watch out for foldable rebounders to ensure that the spring-loaded folding mechanism is easy to open and close as well as does not snap shut easily while in use. Another key safety tip is to check the design around the jump bed to make sure that you do not easily fall through any holes or uncovered areas as you jump, and would not land on any sharp parts such as springs.
- A bigger jump bed is more suitable for beginners or those with balance issues as there is more area you can move on and lowers the likelihood of falling or stepping off if you lose your balance.
- The height of the rebounder affects how easy it is to step on and off, as well as how far you may fall if you lose your balance.
3. Quality – check that there is solid and lasting construction using quality materials such as the type of bungee cords or springs, Permatron mat.
4. Comfort – this is really a personal choice that stems from a combination of jump bed area, mat comfort, design and material of the skirt or padding around the jump bed, height of the legs, noise levels of the rebounder and even whether the rebounder shifts while you jump due to being too light or not having legs with good grip.
5. Purpose or Suitability – does the model of rebounder fits your specific needs in terms of cost, portability, versatility, weight capacity, exercise goals. For e.g., check if the trampoline suits your weight and those of other family members who will be using it. If your goal is oxygenation and lymphatic movement, you should look for a rebounder which offers a deep and high bounce or at least 3G. These are typically bungee cords rebounders which are more elastic. For high intensity workouts to build aerobic and anaerobic endurance, stamina and cardiovascular endurance, spring-based rebounders which offer a lower and faster bounce may be more suitable. In fact, I have actually found that some types of workouts like HIIT and Tabata are more challenging on a bungee cord vs spring rebounder because it is much harder to move quickly with precision while bouncing deep and high.
Best Starter Rebounders
After you have checked out the types of rebounders available in the market and decided what are the important features for you, it’s time to make a decision.
My recommendation is to choose one of the JumpSport rebounders, which are entirely made and engineered in the USA. Here’s why:
- Great value for money. They are not cheap but for the quality you get, they are definitely more affordable than the top end Bellicon. The entry level JumpSport starts at $199 and their top-end rebounder is only $619 compared to upwards of $499 for the simplest Classic version of the Bellicon to $1318 for their top-of-the-line!
- Extremely well-built and long-lasting. JumpSport uses bungee cords that are tested for 400K to 1.6 million jumps (depending on the model) with a 2.5 year warranty. It uses a high quality frame with arched legs which provide unmatched stability so there is no movement of the rebounder across the floor or wobbling as you bounce. JumpSport rebounders come with a lifetime warranty for the frame and 2-5 year warranties for the cords. I have been using mine for 3 years and it still serves me extremely well.
- Versatility. Other than the entry models which have no adjustment settings, the bounce firmness levels can be adjusted with up to 7 adjustable settings and two firmness options (depending on model). This means you can actually modify the bounce as you advance, or simply for different types of workouts!
One downside is that the JumpSport rebounder is so well-built and stable, it can be a bit heavy (around 10kg) to carry or move around.
Another minor issue is that is a slight whispering noise from the petal design of the skirting covering the bungee cords.
Choosing Your JumpSport Rebounder
There are various models of JumpSport rebounders in the market for beginners to advanced users.
For me, the best choice for beginners is the JumpSport 250 – all the best features of the JumpSport with an affordable price tag! Features include:
- EnduroLast-2 bungees last 2X longer.
- Patented easy-to-adjust bounce tension for individual weight and performance needs.
- Patented No-Tip arched legs provide unmatched stability and safety.
- Patented padded petals cover cords for added safety and provide over 60% more exercise space.
Or if you prefer a foldable model, check out the JumpSport 230F. This features:
- 30 Patented EnduroLast-2 cords.
- Patented Steel Reinforced Hinge with lock for no-wobble stability and easy folding and storage.
- Integrated Permatron Skirt covers cords for added safety with over 50% greater space for exercise.
I hope this article has helped you choose your ideal starter rebounder! I welcome your thoughts and comments.
Join me for a future post where I will share my Rebounder Comparison Matrix of the top 10 rebounders in the market.