BY COSHANDRA DILLARD
Fitness is about using any tool — or none at all —to find what works and what is enjoyable. There aren’t many rules. One tool is an old standard that gets overlooked because it’s associated with either children or prizefighters.
It’s the jump rope. It’s portable, inexpensive, a fast calorie-burner and heart exerciser. It also helps tone muscles.
Jumping rope for about a half an hour can burn 550 to 800 calories, depending on body weight, intensity and other factors. It works the total body, including the core. It’s a weight-bearing exercise, but because of a limited range of motion, it’s not so hard on the knees, said Tony Cruz, trainer and owner of XTC Fitness.
Cruz pointed out that jumping rope also provides a lot of stimulus to the body and the mind.
“The brain is working along with the entire body to coordinate the movement,” he said. “You’re dealing with kinetic work. It follows a line. It’s the natural movement of the body. That rope is working everything. You need support all the way to the toes, all the way to the shoulders.”
But with all of the benefits, Cruz said most people are intimidated by the simple tool. It’s linked with boxing because it helps boxers improve footwork and coordination. But, as Cruz explained, you don’t have to be a boxer to take advantage of jump rope’s many benefits.
“They’re afraid of looking goofy,” he said. “That’s the biggest problem. It’s a coordinated skill. Second thing: It’s kind of hard and the third thing, it gets kind of monotonous.”
Perfecting this skill takes practice.
For beginners, it means jumping without the rope, then gradually working up to a full jump and then gaining speed. Once the coordination is there, people can add tricks, such as moving the jump rope in reverse, crisscrossing the arms or moving from side to side.
Cruz sometimes adds jump roping to his XTC In-Sport training session. It requires trainees to perform a series of activities that make use of several apparatuses or the person’s own body weight at his gym. The session lasts 45 to 50 minutes.
During one session last week, his trainees did 40 reps of jump rope, then 60, 80, 100 and 200 in between other movements that intermittently increased the heart rate.
For people not used to jumping fast or often, they can still work up to that many reps.
“When I work with beginners, I ask them to do 20, and during the workout, I put them through three to four sets of 20. Then, what you’re going to do, as you get better, is increase the number.”
Beginners may also do 10 sets of 10, for a total 100 jumps. That’s enough or a total body workout, Cruz said.
As people advance, speeding or doubling up the jumps, jumping higher and doing tricks does away with the monotony of the exercise.
An advanced workout may include 500 jumps followed by running a lap, then repeating.
Weighted jump ropes add more to a routine by working the shoulders, arms and heart harder.
“Anything that exerts any extra energy, you’re going to use a lot of more oxygen and blood flow is going to be good,” Cruz said.
As for posture, Cruz said it’s important not to lean forward as it makes the exercise less efficient. Rope length can also affect performance since it may change posture. When selecting a jump rope, it should be about twice as long as the individual’s height.