Genevieve Teevan dares to try Kangoo at Gymbox Westfield Stratford taught by Gymbox royalty Zoe McNulty." I’d recommend this class for anyone who wants a low-impact cardio workout that doesn’t take itself too seriously" she says. This is what happened.
It is near impossible not to enjoy this class. It is also near impossible to look cool doing this class. If you go through life with a metaphorical Marlboro Light dangling from your lips, then prepare to retire your wry smirk when you step into Kangoo boots. The original point of Kangoos was rehabilitation after injury: to develop explosive strength whilst reducing impact on joints. The reality is you’re wearing bouncy stilts so you feel like a galumphing muppet. So you giggle. Everyone else is giggling too, so you feel bonded in absurdity.
At the start, we tell instructor Zoe McNulty (pictured below) our shoe size and she quickly hands us each a pair of Kangoos. They only come in small, medium and large so there’s no faff wondering if you should have gone up or down half a size. Long socks are recommended. Someone at Gymbox must have a magic sweat-wicking wand because the boots smell box fresh. You sit on the floor to put them on and they have two adjustable straps which click easily into place.
Standing up is the first challenge through which Zoe coaches us. She’s like the glamorous babysitter you crushed on as a kid and has been teaching Gymbox classes since the original Holborn site opened 12 years ago. Wearing Kangoos is a completely foreign sensation but Zoe gets us working straight away and keeps a protective eye on those of us Kangoo-ing for the first time. ‘I’ve been trying to come for months but it’s always fully booked,’ says the only man in the studio. Today is his lucky day.
Zoe leads us in a dance routine that recalls the original Jane Fonda aerobics of the ‘80s (‘Aaand grrrape-vine right! High knees! You know what’s coming! Aww-round the world!’). Thank goodness the choreography is simple because it takes all my concentration to stay upright and follow Zoe’s footwork. The intense bit comes when we jump up and down like toddlers having a tantrum. The clatter of Kangoos is crazy loud and our legs burn. It’s not edgy or sexy but we grin like lunatics because we’re having so much fun.
Studies have shown that people expend twice as much energy (so burn twice as many calories) exercising in Kangoos than in normal trainers. This feels entirely plausible. If phrases like ‘base metabolic rate’ and ‘lymphatic pump’ excite you, read the scientific blether here. Apparently, Kangoos do everything from preventing osteoporosis to improving skin elasticity. Believe what you will. I’d recommend this class for anyone who wants a low-impact cardio workout that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
One woman told me that she was doing the class because she wanted to try Kangoos before buying her own. That’s nuts. I would definitely do this class again because it makes you sweaty and cheerful. I would definitely not buy Kangoos because: (a) wearing them in public would breach even my low dignity threshold, and (b) they would sit in a cupboard gathering dust like all home fitness apparatus purchased by anyone ever. The combination of the specialist equipment, knowledgeable instruction and buzzy atmosphere of this class illustrates exactly why you go to a gym instead of exercising alone.
Find you Kangoo class right here.