Kangoo jump boots burn 25 per cent more calories for 50 per cent less damaging impact on joints. Someday, all trainers will be made this way. Maybe. Hero Brown bounces back
NOVELTY fitness equipment, it seems, is de rigeur for modern health freaks looking for something, anything, to distract them from the grinding battle of the bulge (at least for the 3 weeks they use it). After rollerblades, abdominisers, and ski-simulators comes the "Kangoo jump", a Swiss invention which has just reached Britain.

A bizarre cross between a hard ski-boot and a springboard, Kangoo jumps make their owners look like they're running slo-mo through a sea of chewing gum and attract bemused looks from fellow pedestrians. Despite this, the boots are mercifully easier to negotiate than rollerblades (surely the most embarrassing of learner-sports) and less monotonous than the original bum-buster, the step-machine. The real question, of course, is whether the self-conscious Brit can put up with the ignominy of power-assisted pogo-ing.

Odds on the answer will be "yes." In the age of the body beautiful, anything that nukes fat-cells is sexy and Kangoo jump boots are great calorie zappers. Apart from being kind to weary joints (the "springs" apparently deliver fifty per cent less impact on knees, spinal column and back than if you were bouncing around in ordinary trainers) the Kangoo manufacturers also claim you'll expend an impressive extra 25 per cent of energy using the Kangoo boots. This has, no doubt, helped spawn Kangoo's aerobic spin-off, "Kangoo 'robics", an officially recognised aerobics workout which has taken off in Germany and the States. Now attempting to break into Britain, Kangoo 'robics was recently showcased in Birmingham at the Aerobics Association of Great Britain, and received a warm, if slightly amused, reception from the watching instructors.

"It looked really good fun and easy to use, and with eighty per cent of British people not doing any exercise, anything that catches their imagination is great," says Rachel Strain, assistant director of training and development at London's Central YMCA, before admitting that she'll probably be sticking to more conventional workouts. Which means that she probably won't be advocating the other new discipline to be shown at the conference, the surreal "karaoke aerobics". So if Kangoo's gravity-defying leaps don't appeal, you can warble to your heart's content while perfecting your "grapevine" instead.

Kangoo jump boots, pounds 99.99, are sold through Lillywhites, Piccadilly Circus, London W1, 0171 915 4000