Fitness on the fly

jukari_cirque_du_soleil_reebok.jpgWhen I first saw this colourful, energetic advertisement from Reebok I thought it was for a new line of shoes and workout clothing. How cool I thought to use the trapeze as a prop, a backdrop from which the gorgeous models could show off the apparel. I couldn’t have imagined that the trapeze itself was the workout and the clothes the accessories. Turns out this is Reebok’s newest gym workout for women called JUKARI Fit to Fly (, created in collaboration with Cirque du Soleil, the world renowned circus entertainment company from Quebec.

I was genuinely surprised. It’s been 20 years since 1989 when Reebok created the Step Reebok fitness craze. I remember it well–the step classes at my gym and the best selling video with Gin Miller that, in my opinion, has the best sound track ever for a fitness video. Then Reebok seemed to fall of the radar and it’s been years since I’ve really noticed then. How, I wondered, did they evolve from the step to a flying trapeze?

JUKARI is the result of a 2008 Reebok survey of 15,000 women who revealed they find exercise a chore, are unmotivated and uninspired to exercise but would workout more often if the gym  experience was more fun. “When we got the response to the survey we had a light bulb moment and thought of the strong relationship we have with Cirque du Soleil,” says Marc Fisher, Marketing Manager, Footwear and Apparel, Reebok Canada.”On that initial thought we opened the conversation with them a few years ago and 2 years later we have a fully integrated workout program, inspired by the real moves Cirque du Soleil artists do as part
of their shows that have been adapted to be easily accessible for everyone.”  The 60-minute workout is performed on a specially-designed trapeze type swing called the FlySet that is said to mimic the sensation of flying while strengthening and lengthening the body. Movements fuse acrobatics, cardio, balance, core and strength training,

On March 11, 2009,  Montr�al, Quebec became the first city in the world to offer the JUKARI Fit to Fly workout to consumers, says Fisher proudly. In Quebec, three gyms are offering the workout this spring: Club Sportif MAA, Gym du Plateau, and Club Mansfield in Brossard. Reports are of an overwhelmingly enthusiastic response, waiting lists, and devotees who arrive an hour early to ensure they get a space in the class.”Obviously it’s directed at women but men who’ve been doing it at
the gyms we launched in realize it’s a pretty hard workout and they’re
having a blast,” adds Fisher.

As for Toronto locations, Fisher says they are identifying facilities in metropolitan downtown and the Mississauga and surrounding areas that are interested and can accommodate the apparatus that must hang from the ceiling, which could mean renovations for some gyms. There are also plans to roll out the program to the rest of Canada. As well the class has launched in top gyms around the world including Hong Kong, Mexico City, Madrid, London, Krakow, Munich, Seoul, Kuala Lampur, Buenos Aires, Santiago, and Los Angeles. Fisher adds that JUKARI is part of a four year partnership with Cirque du Soleil
and it will evolve into other workouts which won’t necessarily involve
the trapeze and will be more accessible to more fitness facilities.

So what does the JUKARI workout look like? Looks like fun to me and the kind of novelty that keeps fitness interesting and challenging. For a taste of a Fit to Fly class, here are some of the moves (in order from left to right of the photo):
1.    Swing to Straddle Jump: cardio movement that works legs, lats and biceps
2.    Lunge with Kick: works legs and core
3.    Hanging Carousel to Straddle: works hip abductors, back and abdominals
4.    Mountain Climber to Pike: works chest, triceps, shoulders and core
5.    Mixed Grip Pull-up with Kick: works the chest, back and legs

Only time will tell if JUKARI takes flight, but the campaign is definitely eye catching  and will be supported by a global integrated marketing campaign throughout 2009. Reebok has also taken it to the social media front, with Jukari flying across YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

For busy people who can’t always schedule in gym time, there are new exercise shoes designed to turn a simple trip to the beach, mall, or grocery store into an endurance workout.

Reebok-EasyTone-Go-Outside.jpgThis July, In combination with the JUKARI Fit to Fly Workout, Reebok Canada will
introduce the  Easy Tone Shoes (left) which are said to 
work  your glute muscles 29% more
than in traditional shoes. It joins other ‘take the gym outside’ footwear like the Skechers Skechers womens Shape Up Trainer.jpgWomen’s Shape Ups Trainer (right)  that, as you walk allows your heel to sink to the ground, roll forward as your weight shifts to its center, and push off with your toes. This movement is said to result in stronger leg, buttock, back, and abdominal muscles as you stabilize your steps. I’ve also seen
quite a few Skechers Women’s Tone Ups – Fun Flops(right) around town.Womens tone Ups-Fune flops.jpg I think they are the new Haviannas. Described as the ultimate fitness equipment, Fun Flops sandals are said to mimic the sensation of walking barefoot over soft ground. ( 
These Skechers are emulating, at an affordable price, the success of the legendary Masai Barefoot Technology ( and the wildly popular FitFlop( developed by Canadian Marcia Kilgore.

If walking is your main form of activity you might want to try one of these new exercise shoes…just for kicks.