by Katie Lyons-Church • photography by Two Eagles Marcus
Alex Kakabaker truly has a sweet work life: She spends her mornings baking and tasting artisanal sweets at her father’s bakeshop and ends her day burning off those calories by jumping around with her students.
Kakabaker is the proud owner of JumpGR, an unconventional 50-minute cardio exercise class that requires rebound shoes and a whole lot of upbeat dancing.
“I want the students to enjoy a non-intimidating atmosphere where they can be free to have fun and continue to work on their personal fitness journey.”
She became inspired to introduce this style of exercise to Grand Rapids after taking a trip to Detroit and participating in a class that teaches Kangoo dancing. Kangoo dancing originated in Eastern Europe in the’90s and later found its way to the United States as more people sought alternative forms of fitness.
“[When I took my first class], I loved that it was challenging and interesting at the same time,” Kakabaker smiled.
She started JumpGR in August of 2016 knowing that whenever she went to work out at a formal gym, the discipline wouldn’t stick around for long.
“JumpGR is a way to get your cardio in, all while having fun and staying fit,” she explained. “It provides a fun alternative workout with energetic music and dancing.”
The rebound shoes required for JumpGR classes have a non-slip tread that can be worn inside or out. They have an intriguing, futuristic aesthetic and were originally designed for athletes to take stress off of their back, knees and ankles. Although they appear bulky, the shoes provide the wearer with an otherworldly sensation of walking on air—and they certainly attract a lot of attention.
“People’s initial reaction when I have the boots on are weird and confused stares, but it’s a great conversation starter,” Kakabaker laughed. “They are impressed with how high of a rebound you can get in them.”
The classes begin with a 10-minute stretch and warm-up routine that moves on to a 30-minute bounce session. Kakabaker incorporates squats, pushups and crunches for a bit of a challenge while encouraging students to move at their own pace. One 50-minute JumpGR class can burn up to 800 calories.
“The classes are great for beginners and versatile enough for someone looking for a challenge,” Kakabaker said. “Before each class, people are often nervous. Honestly, after everyone puts the shoes on and walks around in them, they instantly feel comfortable. It just takes a minute to get used to them.”
JumpGR is available to people of all ages and is highly recommended to those looking for a mood booster. As Kakabaker explains, most people feel an overwhelming sense of happiness and fun when they strap on the rebound shoes and start jumping.
“I want the students to enjoy a non-intimidating atmosphere where they can be free to have fun and continue to work on their personal fitness journey,” she expressed. “When I decided to start the class in Grand Rapids, I genuinely loved it so much, it isn’t about the money; it’s about having fun and doing what I love.”
Jump GR classes are held at 61Syx Teknique Street Dance Academy and Horizon Complex for $12 per class. Shoe rental is included in the cost of the class. During the summer months, you can catch JumpGR bouncing their way down the Blue Bridge in downtown Grand Rapids or hopping around at Rosa Parks Circle.
For more information about JumpGR, visit JumpGR.com.