FAD SPORT: Next time you see a grown man being dragged skywards across a windy beach by his kite and dumped in a sand dune, fear not - his screams will probably be ones of delight. He will scramble to his feet, spit the sand from his mouth and wait for the wind to yank him up again. This is kite-jumping, a world of high risk and adventure. With a strong wind whipping sand against their calf muscles, they stack their kites, creating a kite tower with several on top of each other for more lift. Each kite is roughly 10ft across and made of toughened nylon stretched across carbonfibre rods. The jumpers throw them into the wind and as the pressure under the kites grows they find it harder to hang on. They start "scudding", their feet sliding across the sand as they strain to avoid falling forward and being dragged face down across the beach. Then they are plucked from the ground. Jump heights of 60ft are common and jumpers are carried hundreds of feet horizontally before being ditched unceremoniously, and sometimes painfully, back on the sand. Although this exhausting activity has been in the UK for five years, there are still only about 600 people regularly jumping according to Joost Meijerink, general manager of the kite-making company Flexifoil International Ltd. And to his knowledge there are no official clubs or associations. But more kite stacks are appearing above beaches and grassy expanses as it gains popularity. One thrill-seeker, who spends his weekends grimly hanging to the strings of a Flexifoil, is James Riley, a 28-year-old designer. "When you've got a lot of wind and a good stack of Flexifoils the pull is so incredibly strong that it's like being strapped behind a raging bull with your arms outstretched," he said. Some go further, strapping themselves to tractor inner-tubes and letting the kites pull them over marshes or lakes, or skid across the sands in small wind-pulled buggies. So are kite-jumping and its derivatives sports for all? As long as you are strong and fit, says Mr Meijerink. "It's demanding, so if you are the person who sits in the pub all day and does nothing, then don't bother."

! For more information about kite-jumping contact your nearest kite shop or call the Kite Company Ltd (01225 466661) or Kite Store Ltd (0171 836 1666)

MOTHER SHIP-SHAPE: New research from Ohio State University shows that aerobics beats stretching exercises when it comes to losing extra weight gained during pregnancy: the body fat of new mothers who took part in high-intensity aerobic exercise (two hour-long classes per week) declined by 7 per cent after 15 weeks, while those who spent an equal amount of time doing calisthenics saw a fall of just 2 per cent.

FROM A TO ZEN: You can shop for the therapy of your choice with Donald Watson's Dictionary Of Mind And Body (Andre Deutsch, pounds 12.99), a directory of over 800 "alternative" head-to-toe treatments, featuring everything from Zen meditation to the terrifying-sounding bee venom therapy.

F-PLANET HOLLYWOOD: Burger-bar-owning superstars are last year's thing - these days you'll find them burning off that cholestorol in their newly opened gyms. Linda Evans (Krystle from Dynasty) is leading the way with a chain of women-only fitness studios across America, while portly Ryan O'Neal could do with spending more time at his Pro-Gym in Los Angeles. Madonna is reportedly set to invest in a Miami gym, and geeky Garth from Wayne's World (aka actor Dana Carvey) can be found headbanging at his Prescriptives Fitness Studio in New York. Rumours that a chain of Bernard Manning Workout Centres are due to open here soon couldn't be confirmed ...

FLAKES OF THE WEEK: ''Colour me beautiful'' is the method used in a beauty treatment called Aura Soma. The client chooses four bottles of coloured essential oils from a range of 93 - each colour has a significance (eg: deep magenta indicates the need to embrace ''universal love and caring''). The oils are then rubbed into the body, and their properties allegedly seep naturally into the client's psyche. Some practitioners even claim that Aura Soma can banish wrinkles by "alleviating daily stresses''. Sounds like a shady business.

(For your nearest practitioner, call Jane Dillon-Guy at Aura Soma UK on 01476-76476)


If you've seen Waterworld and fancy emulating the water-skiing Smokers, you could try weightboarding, designed for newcomers to the skiing scene. The board itself boasts a fin for added balance - the equivalent of stabilisers on a bike - but that doesn't make it any less gravity-defying: "It's easier to pick up than normal skiing, and you soon gain confidence,'' says a spokesman at the British Waterski Federation. "We've had people doing 720-degree twists in the air.'' It's also claimed that weightboarding can do wonders for the leg and arm muscles. To find out more, call Ian Broddell, weightboarding information officer, on 01784 461 086.

PLANE SAILING: As frequent fliers can attest, long-haul can be a very, um, long haul. Certain airlines are now bringing relief to the seized- up with in-flight "airobic" videos, featuring exercises designed for the seat-bound. Northwest Airlines screens a 12-minute "strength training" workout, with the emphasis on in-seat marching and fist-punching, to get the blood pumping for that all-important dash to baggage reclaim. Lufthansa and Japan Airlines concentrate on deep abdominal breathing and DIY thigh massage. "Most people love the idea," says Marjorie Horner of Northwest. "They're getting off the plane ready to face anything the world can throw at them". Except jetlag, presumably.

PARK - DON'T RIDE: Following the serious accidents involving rollerbladers in Hyde Park, the Royal Parks Commission is reviewing its policy toward skaters. The review, which could lead to rollerbladers being confined to a small area within the park, or even a complete ban, is due to be completed within a month, when an official announcement will be made.

CONTRAPTION: Sploosh, sploosh, sploosh, sploosh, sploosh. What can it be? The washing machine turning? The bath emptying? Nope. It's the WaterRower, the first ever rowing machine to incorporate genuine water. The water, contained in a circular sealed unit, creates a "soothing sound" to "encourage users". Most exercise machines are ungainly, clunky heaps of metal; the WaterRower, however, is made of sleek beech, cherry, or walnut wood (though minimalist types can go for the black and white lacquer finished versions). It cries out to live in a chic ultra-modern American- style loft with stripped floors. Strange as it looks and gimmicky as it sounds, the WaterRower is wonderfully smooth and user-friendly, with none of the teeth-rattling jerkiness of the standard fan-resistance rowing machine. Professional oarspersons use it to train, and it's difficult to prise enthusiastic amateurs off its ergonomically-sculpted seat. If you don't go for the conversation-piece living-room furniture aspect, it stands on its end for easy storage in the spare room or under the stairs. Joining the home-rowing elite (latest buyer, Steven Spielberg) does not come cheap, however. The basic beechwood model costs pounds 725 plus VAT, and the top-of-the-range American black walnut is pounds 1,000 plus VAT - but the WaterRower should still be in good working order in a decade's time. Do not pop your goldfish into the tank; goldfish do not need to work out.

! Inquiries: WaterRower (UK) Ltd, 50 Greyhound Road, London W6 8NX, tel 0171 381 6663, fax 0171 381 6664; retail outlets include Lillywhites of Regent Street, tel 0171 915 4000.