|by A. Christine Maxfield||Czech Republic||16|
Step aside, pogo stick, your punk cousin has just arrived. Known by many different brand names, the powerbock—or bock for short—was invented by the nutty German aerospace engineer Alexander Böck, who apparently studied the movements of kangaroos to help develop his prototype.
A cross between a pogo stick and stilts with the inertia of a trampoline, the three-foot-high boots allow brave souls to boing six feet in the air, take nine-foot-long strides, and sprint at over 20 m.p.h. When strapped into the snowboard-like bindings, a disaster may be waiting to happen—that's called "bailing." But it could also be just the edge some are looking for while touring abroad.
Which is where Bounce Clan comes in. Set in Prague, the powerbock team spends about 30 minutes near Kampa Park restaurant training their helmeted and body padded clients to walk—and then tentatively jump and jog—in the carbon-fiber boots before taking off over Charles Bridge, down cobblestone side streets, and into the Old Town Square of the Czech capital.
And even though this isn't the point, tourists are inadvertently receiving a workout as well. Besides having to constantly shift their weight from side-to-side to keep from keeling over, they are burning calories five times faster than while jogging, and using 95 percent of their muscles—or so the claims go. Apparently a university test group in Korea lost an average of seven pounds in five weeks after using their bocks. That's all the incentive one should need to finish their last kolache pastry…
Of course, bouncing down the street at high speeds is not good enough for the more extreme-sports prone. Even though the boots have just gained popularity over the past five years, there are already Guinness World Record holders for flipping backwards 20 times in 20 seconds, and somersaulting more than sixteen feet over a parked car. They have even been spotted during the closing ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
See the video:
So if you can't get out of their way, you may as well strap in and start bocking, because it appears these boots are here to stay…
Bounce Clan, powerbock tour from $46, 011-420/774-467-211, bounceclan.cz.