With all the attention given to high-intensity workouts these days, it’s easy to forget about jump roping – the old-school exercise you probably did in the school yard. But the simplicity, benefits, and pure fun of jump rope make the exercise worth a second thought.
I became an enthusiast about ten years ago when I began to see a fitness trainer. As part of the cardiovascular workout, I was instructed to jump rope.
“Are you kidding?” I asked. “I haven’t jumped rope since I was six.”
“Just try,” he said, as he lifted up his stopwatch and hit start. So I gave it a shot.
At first, I was most concerned about how clumsy I looked. I hadn’t yet mastered the fluid-like skipping of the pros and needed to add an extra jump in between each pass of the rope. Within 10 seconds, my legs grew heavier, and I began to feel a burning in my shins, calves, and feet.
I felt like a flower wilting under a heat lamp, and eventually had to stop. Was that REALLY less than a minute? Jump roping, it turned out, was some serious work!
As I caught my breath, the trainer told me that 10 minutes of skipping was equivalent to jogging for 30 minutes. He then spouted off what a great all-around cardiovascular workout it was, how it employed most body parts, and was completely portable, especially for his clients who frequently traveled. Judging by how sweaty and out of breath I was, I believed the hype.
“Ok, “ I told him. “I guess I could commit to this for a few weeks and see what happens.”
In the first month, I jumped rope five times a week. As I got the hang of it, I no longer needed to make that extra jump between passes. Before long, I perfected that light and relaxed-looking hop that boxers have. I even started to vary my routine by doing alternate-foot jumps and jumping jacks with the rope. My endurance slowly increased from less than a minute to seven minutes, and best of all, I felt fitter.
After my training sessions, I kept rope jumping in an exercise class called Punk Rope. It mixed jump roping, fitness games, and relay races to an upbeat punk rock soundtrack. For someone who has never seen herself as particularly edgy, I felt like a renegade rocking out to the likes of the Dropkick Murphys and Stiff Little Fingers in class.
Unlike many fitness trends that I’ve tried, I still jump rope. My rope hasn’t gotten lost like my DVDs, dumbbells, or exercise bands, so I know the exercise is sustainable for me. Sometimes, I like to break out my rope in the middle of the day to take a break from work, or will use it before and after my morning runs. I’ve even encouraged my husband to rope jump to improve his fitness, and my six-year-old niece says she wants to jump like me someday.
So if you’ve always thought that jump roping is only for kids – think again. It’s cheap, convenient, and easy to do, and you might find it as fun as when you were a child.
All you need is a rope, sneakers, and a fun soundtrack!
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