Senior Planet Sponsored Athlete

Arlene Toonkel, 68: Jumping with Joy

Meet Arlene Toonkel. She’s one of the 2021 Senior Planet Sponsored Athletes, and she’ll be sharing updates on her health and wellness journey through the rest of this year. Arlene, age 68, is a retired educator and artist who has been rebounding — a fun style of aerobic workout performed through jumping on a mini-trampoline, or rebounder — for the last two decades. After being left in the unexpected role of single mother of twins, Arlene has “bounced back” to stay strong for her family, and discover true joy through exercise.

“My inspiration for starting rebounding over 20 years ago was staying strong for my children. When my twins were 2 months old, their father abandoned us, and the responsibility of raising them without any family support fell to me. I needed to be strong no matter what.

“The universe was sending me a message to start rebounding.”

“I have a memory of the twins at four years old, jumping on their crib beds and being so happy from the simple act of jumping. It was pure joy just watching them. As a single parent, I had been struggling with figuring out an indoor fitness routine that let me keep a close eye on my toddlers. Soon after moving to New Jersey, I received a catalog in the mail called Perfect Health and the name intrigued me. Inside, I saw a rebounder that could fit in our apartment, and that was the answer I was looking for — the universe was sending me a message to start rebounding. Rebounding gave me the power to take charge of my health and to be strong and a role model for my children. I’m still rebounding two decades later on the very same rebounder!

The Rebounding Routine

“Currently I rebound for 35 minutes a day. Each morning I start with what is called the basic bounce or ‘health bounce’ for the first 3 minutes, followed by 30 minutes of a deeper bouncing, jumping jacks, and sometimes a dancing combination mixed with arm movements that I bring from my yoga classes. I end with another 2 minutes of the gentle health bounce to cool down.

“Rebounding leaves my whole body smiling and happy… I feel energized and focused on being in the present…”

“I love rebounding because of how it makes me feel and how it helps me make the most physically and mentally of every day. Rebounding leaves my whole body smiling and happy. It connects me to my body — I feel energized and focused on being in the present as I concentrate on my steps, arm movements, and balance.

Basics for Beginners

Start slowly. When you first begin rebounding, try jumping for 2 minutes, 3-4 times a day. Always start with the health bounce. Your body needs to adjust to rebounding so you don’t get nauseous or dizzy, as your body is not used to detoxifying in this way. Once you are ready, increase your sessions to 5 minutes, 3-4 times a day until you feel that you can handle more. Frequency matters. 10 minutes for 3-4 times a day is excellent! For a cardio workout, 20 minutes of rebounding is equal to 1 hour of jogging and is much easier on your joints, because you are working with gravity as part of the equation.

Buy a stabilizing bar at the same time that you purchase your rebounder for your safety and for balance support.

Do research. There are 2 basic kinds of rebounders and different types within each category. You really don’t want a cheap one as they won’t last, and they could possibly hurt your joints.

Eat a healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, and stay hydrated. Fresh lime or lemon water with a bit of raw honey or maple syrup is great for giving your cells needed hydration, glucose, and mineral salts that aid with detoxification during rebounding.

Discovering — and Representing — Senior Planet

“In January 2021, through a friend, I discovered Senior Planet’s fitness classes and realized that I had the opportunity to step up my fitness and wellness journey. I was recovering from a knee injury and from a ‘frozen shoulder’ that had me unable to use my dominant arm and had been causing great pain for months. I wanted to make myself strong again. As soon as I got the link for Senior Planet classes, I never looked back. Since January, I participate in several fitness and wellness classes every weekday and I love it!

“It’s time to find what brings us joy.”

“I am so pleased to be a Senior Planet Sponsored Athlete for 2021. I hope to inspire many of you to start rebounding for your health, well-being, and happiness, as it is a low-impact exercise that can be very beneficial for seniors in our community. It’s time to find what brings us joy, and as far as fitness goes, rebounding brings me joy! I hope that you may find that too.”

In need of a little motivation to get moving? Join our daily health and wellness programs, stay tuned to the latest news and articles from by signing up for The Orbit weekly newsletter, and follow us on social media (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram) to get to know these awe-inspiring athletes. You might just find a new love for fitness along the way!


29 responses to “Arlene Toonkel, 68: Jumping with Joy

  1. I am SO Happy to have found these groups and this website! I have been paying over a hundred dollars a month to zoom exercise twice weekly with 8-10 others since the plandemic started! And now the times have changed to be quite early for me here in Hawaii. So let all of the older adults who might be able to benefit maximally from this lifestyle change (by incorporating regular movement into their daily regiments) know about this amazing site! Thanks to all involved. what a practical life help this is for all of us!

    1. Maryruth, all the way from Hawaii, how nice and it’s so true what you said. The Senior Planet website and their Zoom classes offer us such a great menu of ways to exercise, stay healthy, learn and be connected. Thank you for your comment.

    1. That’s great Alva, so happy that you uncovered yours and are ready to start slowly again. Thinking of the many health benefits that you will be receiving makes me happy for you. Even with 2, building up to 5 minutes of the “Health Bounce” with your feet remaining on the mat (pushing down with your body to get your momentum and gravity going in opposition) is a good way to begin again. And if you could do that 3-4 times a day is even better according to studies done by NASA showing frequency matters. All my best.

  2. Lovely, inspirational story Arlene! Proud of you, and looking forward to your rebounding workshop! I’ve had a rebounder for years, but just pushed it from one side of the room to the other, never even trying it out, I’m going to unfold it and dust it off in anticipation. It came with the security bar.
    Let’s do this!
    Phyllis Bowdwin

    1. Great Phyllis, yes let’s do this, you inspire me too! It’s wonderful that our Senior Planet community is constantly learning tips from one another to create improved health & wellness in our lives. So glad that you already had one to dust off, & that yours came with the stabilizing bar, to me it makes a difference in how secure & safe I feel. Yours in Health!

  3. Arlene thanks so much for sharing your journey. So many of us have experienced the same as you , having to raise our children by ourselves. Thanks for reminding me of your rebound, l once had one, but moving from place to place l got rid of it. l sure will try to purchase another one. l know it will keep me off the couch sometimes. Thanks again for sharing your knowledge and inspiration.

    1. Thank you Ada! Yes raising children ourselves is quite the journey, and by putting one foot in front of the other, it’s seems amazing in retrospect what we were able to do at the time on our own. Happy to remind you of your rebounding days, sorry that you had to leave yours behind in the move. You bring so much knowledge & inspiration to our group, I thank you too!

      1. Hi Arlene
        Today I found you my classmate and hope to reconnect as we have been out of BU fifty years this 2023

        We each had apartments in Brookline on Park Drive

        I am acting in the role of class correspondent so stay in touch by replying thanks! I live in Connecticut

    1. Barbara, Happy to explain the “Health Bounce” which is what I do as a warm up and a cool down before my exercise routine or sometimes that’s all that I do 3-4 times throughout the day to give my metabolism a boost. I stand in the middle of the mat on my Rebounder with my feet parallel flat on the mat, a hips length apart, my knees are loose & flexible slightly bent and I pull my navel in toward my spine keeping my core tight, arms loose by my side or holding on to the stabilizing bar. I push my body downwards towards the mat to get the momentum lift going and creating the up and down oppositional gravitational force going. I do this for 2-3 minutes gently, then I increase the downwards push with my body towards the mat for maybe 5-10 minutes or longer as I have been rebounding for 20 years. Start slowly with 2 minutes, & always check in with your body first-and of course your health practitioner to see if it is right for you. All my best!

    1. Darl, I have friends that love their Leaps and Rebounds & one that has the very, very expensive Bellicon. Both of those have Bungee Cords from their springs. I would google those and research & check out the reviews. It depends on many individual things about you-weight, if you feet/ankles are pronated, etc. Since you asked me what I like, I use the soft bounce old style kind with spring coils that is a half fold (but I have never folded it )and have had it out since 1999, so I use it. I also bought their stabilizing bar. Call Chris the manager at Needak Rebounders at 800-232-5762, in Nebraska. He is very helpful and very good about answering questions comparing the different types of Rebounders and the differences between them as well as warranties. I personally would not go any narrower than 40″ wide as you have to deduct 10″ from that 40″ to allow for the spring coil edges, which you don’t step on, so you really have only 30″ to bounce. I also wouldn’t choose an oval or hexagonal shape one for even jumping. Best in Health & Wellness.

  4. Thanks for sharing Arlene. I was wondering if it is recommended to place rebounder on carpet or linoleum? My friend had a big rebounder in her backyard in Florida and I tried it 5 years ago and I enjoyed it. My niece had a children’s size one in their basement but I was too big for it. I will look into purchasing one.

    1. Ilene, good question. Rebounders should all come with rubber caps on the ends of their legs to prevent sliding as the legs are made of metal. I have a wall to wall carpet that is pretty flat by now under my rebounder, so I don’t have to worry about it moving. As far as on linoleum, are you worrying about making a possible circular mark from the indentation of the rebounder feet on your linoleum? I can’t say, but just to make sure I would call 800-232-5762 and ask for Chris (the manager) at Needak Rebounders in Nebraska (there are 2 sites listed online-use the one with rebounders after Needak. This is the kind that I have. They are made in the USA. I have called him several times and he is very helpful. Yes I agree about the width, I wouldn’t go with anything less than 40″ across so it’s not too small, as you lose 10″ from the edges which have spring coils that you wouldn’t want to step on. The ones that are made with Bungee cords you would also lose 10″ around the edges. All my best

    1. Yes Dawn, that would be great! Thank you for your comments. I am writing another article with more information from my Zoom class to share, for everyone on more of the health benefits and more tips on rebounding and some recommended videos. Check with your health practitioner if this is good for you and hopefully you can add it to your exercise routine.
      All my best for your health & wellness!

  5. Arlene thanks for your inspiring story and your determination to stay strong and healthy. I just turned 80 and am also an enthusiastic rebounder; it’s a simple and safe way to get that all important cardio exercise and burn calories — while enjoying music or an interesting PBS program. And just as important, I just discovered Senior Planet–what a Godsend–and have added regular exercise classes that help me stay strong and flexible. So thank you Senior Planet.

    1. Mary Lee, How fantastic a fellow rebounder!! I do the same as you, I listen to music or watch PBS, we are so simpatico. So very nice to read your comments. Yes, Senior Planet is a life saver. What brand of rebounder do you have? All my Best in health and wellness.

      1. hey Arlene, I know absolutely nothing about rebounding, except that I loved trampolines as a kid. In addition, I am a Cancer survivor and, at 62, with a benign ganglioneuroma (categorized as such because it should not metastasize; however, as it continues to grow in and around my lower spine and pelvic region, it causes all sorts of mayhem, and I certainly don’t think of it as benign! ) find myself over weight and in serious need of something FUN for exercise, so I want to try this! Has your ‘article’ been written yet and how do I access it? Mahalo and Aloha from the Big Island of Hawaii!~~Maryruth in Hilo

    1. Just read this article and love the idea of being able to ‘rebound’ in a NYC apt! A few minutes ago, I did not even know the term– now I would love to try it. I already do the Yoga part 2x a wk, so this could be fun. Thanks for the inspiration and continued movement and good health to you!

      1. Pat, Thanks for your comments. Yes you can definitely “rebound” in an NYC apartment. I was born and raised there on the and wish that I was still there. Senior Planet classes are great, a real lifesaver for us seniors! I am writing another article with added rebounding tips and health benefits that I spoke about on the zoom class that I did last week. I love how low impact rebounding is and how gentle their twice a week Chair Yoga class with Tina is.
        All my best for your Health & Wellness!

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