Fight against pandemic pounds? Jump rope offers serious cardio at a great price


If you think skipping rope is for “girls in skirts, jumping on a playground,” Alysia Mattson suggests you reconsider your decision. “It’s a lot more of a badass sport than that,” said the 28-year-old Seattle jump rope specialist. When she had no access to the gym and was fed up with Zoom workouts during the April 2020 closings, she purchased one of the few fitness equipment that had not been sold out – a rope to jump.

Since then, Mattson has found camaraderie in the online jump rope community, which she says has seen her numbers “skyrocket” since the start of the pandemic. In an email, Erica Brandelius, public relations representative for El Cajon-based jump rope maker Rx Smart Gear, said pandemic jump ropes sales were up 30% from the previous year. ‘last year. Tim Haft, the founder of Manhattan-based Punk Rope, said his sales of skipping ropes increased 145% over the same period.

German skipping rope expert and trainer Mira Waterkotte is also a testament to the sport’s recent growth. As she switched from live events to virtual lessons, she started with a class at the start of the pandemic. Due to growing demand, she now teaches three classes, attracting students from all over the world. She attributes the growing popularity of skipping rope to its affordability and convenience. According to the six-time national jumping rope champion, it only takes two things to get started: a rope and a little curiosity.

Brittany Weiss (left) and Bryce Smith get an incredible view for their workout at Windansea Beach in La Jolla. Jump ropes are portable enough to go almost anywhere from the backyard to the beach.

(Rx Smart Gear)


Not only can you jump almost anywhere without investing more than $ 20 in a rope, the workout offers many health benefits. As well as helping you improve your speed, coordination and agility, “it’s the best cardio you could ask for,” said Nick Woodard, 14-time world show jumping champion and co-owner of Learnin ‘ the Ropes in Bowling Green, Ky.

According to Rachel Jablow, a Chicago-based jump rope instructor and owner of Get Roped, jumping builds bone density and prevents osteoporosis.

It also supports your mind, especially when immersing yourself in more complicated choreography. “As you go more and more, you can be very creative,” Woodard said.

The movements require deep concentration. Jablow called it a “moving meditation,” adding, “If you’re not there, you’re going to stumble.”

Supporters say the risk of injury is lower than with running, another sport that has seen a pandemic boost. According to Haft, who is both a jump rope instructor and a USA Track and Field certified trainer, the force of the required movements is distributed differently in your joints. “We don’t see a lot of rope jumping injuries unless the person’s form is really bad,” Haft said.

As long as you don’t jump too high, skipping rope is easier on your body than it looks. “If you do it right,” Jablow said, “it’s really low impact.”

The Rx Mono Rope is presented by athlete Katie Walker.

The Rx Mono Rope, presented by athlete Katie Walker at Civita Park in Mission Valley, is a jump rope for people with one-arm ability.

(Rx Smart Gear)

Rope selection

A quick google search for skipping ropes yields tens of thousands of results. Here is an introduction to help you decide which type to buy.

A beaded rope, such as the Signature Beaded Rope from ($ 9.99). Heavier than other ropes, they are made of a cord with segmented plastic beads in the shape of a tube. Their extra weight provides more feedback i.e. information on where the rope is in space, which is especially useful for beginners who are still working on rope control.

A cable, like the Rogue Fitness Speed ​​Rope (starting at $ 18). Commonly seen in CrossFit, a cable is made up of a piece of wire between two handles. The lightest ropes available, these are designed for jumpers who focus on double submarines (swinging the rope under your feet twice per jump).

A licorice or PVC cord, like the EliteSRS Flex Freestyle (starting at $ 11.99). These are lighter than beaded ropes but heavier than metal ropes and easier to handle. Jablow said they’re ideal if you’re planning to make jumping rope a habit, especially if you see yourself trying out tricks.

A smart rope, like the Tangram Smart Jump Rope Rookie ($ 39.95). More expensive than traditional ropes, they connect to your smartphone or watch and provide data such as calories burned, number of jumps, and workout duration. Woodard said they’re great for those who are motivated by action. Jablow, however, said she has yet to try one with the same quality as the cheaper conventional strings she prefers.

To find the right length, stand in the middle of the rope with your feet hip-width apart. Grasping a grip in each hand, with your upper arms at your sides, bend your elbows as fully as possible. For beginners, said Woodard, the grips should reach all the way to the armpits.


Beginners should focus on developing coordination and endurance to jump for five to 10 minutes without tripping, said Chloe Woo, certified personal trainer at the Dogpound site in Los Angeles. As a rule of thumb, start with sessions no longer than 10 minutes (including time spent catching your breath and stumbling).

Woodard recommends skipping two to three times a week at first and increasing your duration by no more than 10 percent every week or two. Your first workouts can be as simple as setting your timer for five minutes and alternating 20 seconds of jumping with 20 seconds of rest. Woodard said you might also consider inserting two-minute jump rope episodes between sets of resistance workouts.

As your skills progress, Woo suggests experimenting with your footwork to keep it interesting. “Maybe it’s just hopping on one foot or giving your feet a little pat.”

Other moves you can try include side jumps, backward jumps, and crisscross rope rotations, Woodard said. While he acknowledges that it can be frustrating to learn the techniques, it is also more engaging. “You can jump 50 times, or you can jump 150 times trying a few tricks,” he said. “But you won’t really know you jumped so much, because you’re having fun doing it.”

And, Haft said, you can even do exercises that don’t require jumping, like the side swing often associated with boxing. In the side swing, the rope swings to one side of your body, then comes back and goes to the other side. “If you do this at a really fast pace, it’s a great cardio workout with no impact because you don’t get off the floor.” While it can be boring, Haft said, “even a minute of that would be pretty difficult.”

Dos and Don’ts

Security: Starting slowly is crucial to avoid injury. “You always want to feel like you probably could have done more,” said Meghan Wieser, physiotherapy doctor and strength trainer in Ellicott City, Maryland.

Good form also helps. Jablow advised keeping your upper arms “glued to your rib cage,” bending your elbows about 45 degrees, and letting most of the movement come from your wrists. Meanwhile, land and jump off what she calls the “sweet spot,” the back of the soles of the feet. “Stay light on your feet. Don’t jump more than an inch off the ground, ”she said. If your form is good, you should feel like you are barely jumping.

According to Wieser, common jump rope injuries include calf fatigue and plantar fasciitis, both of which result from overuse of the calf. “We don’t give enough credit to how much [jumping] goes through the calf muscle complex, ”she said. To avoid these problems, she suggests performing exercises that build calf strength and resilience, such as calf raises and farmer portages (i.e. walking with weights in each hand). .

Shoes: Look for shoes with good arch support and lots of cushioning. But beware of running shoes, which often have more heel padding, Jablow said. Instead, choose an elliptical trainer that has adequate forefoot cushioning to absorb the impact as you land.

Area: For optimum safety and comfort, find a surface that is flat and firm, but not too hard. According to Haft, a rubber track is ideal, and a wooden basketball court with a bit of flexibility is second best. Otherwise, he suggests asphalt (but not concrete, which is too stiff).

And always avoid weed. “The grass will add some resistance to the rope as it spins under your feet,” Haft said. At best, this will trip novice jumpers and slow experienced jumpers. At worst, you could land on a divot and sprain your ankle.

If you’re indoors, Haft suggests a carpeted surface (as long as it’s not plush or thick pile) or hardwood flooring with a grippy rug rather than a rug.

If you don’t have access to a good surface, Jablow suggests purchasing a jump rope mat. They’re lightweight and portable, and you can lay one on any flat surface and jump with adequate shock absorption.

Mattson started to jump on concrete. Although she admitted it was “a bad idea,” skipping rope was her oasis during pandemic shutdowns. She remembers the time that flew as she tried to unlock her first trick, the jump rope to master a new skill. She spent up to three hours a day trying to be successful. (It was the toad, which involves a cross jump, leg lift, and “just crazy” coordination.)

Although she is recovering from an ACL tear she suffered while skiing, she can’t wait to jump again. She still follows her jump rope friends on social media, including “the grandmothers and grandfathers absolutely crushing her with the rope.” Mattson said: “I want to do this my whole life.”

Moore is a freelance writer, Ironman triathlete and certified personal trainer, and she hosts the “Real Fit” podcast.

Copyright: Special for The Washington Post

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