Given the many athletic feats you might face at the gym—Tabata, treadmill sprints, lifting heavy weights—it’s funny that the innocent little jump rope should be the workout that, er, trips us up the most.
“Little girls and boxers are the only people who jump rope,” says Michael Olajide, Jr., former champion boxer and founder of Aerospace high-performance fitness studio in New York. He knows well the level of frustration people encounter around the coordination jumping rope requires, which causes them to give up. “But most people need just need to be taught, and they’re ready to go,” explains Olajide.
Why should you, um, learn the ropes? It’s a cardio and endurance-building workout like none other, swears Olajide, in part because it takes you out of your comfort zone.
“It requires full-body movement and coordination—versus a spin bike, say, which only targets your lower body. And it engages your reactionary reflexes. Your muscles must respond to quick and slow movement. That’s what’s still missing from a lot of cardio, and why jumping rope really keeps your head in the game,” Olajide says.
To spread the gospel of jumping rope (and the benefits of boxing-inspired workouts) to those everywhere, Olajide recently launched his first-ever DVD program, Aerobox: The System Of Sleek. There are a total of seven workouts over four DVDs, including a 10-minute jump rope routine.
How to get through the first minute? Olajide gave us these simple tips for how to minimize frustration, so soon you’ll be skipping rope in your sleep. Or anywhere you and your new fitness BFF, the jump rope, want to go.
1. Get the right rope
Olajade’s students use the Aerospace Rainmaker, so named for the sweat the rope will pull out of you. It has a fast ball-bearing handle with light-weight poly-nylon cord. “It’s very responsive, and doesn’t lose its arc,” he explains. Your rope should hit the ground right in front of you. If it’s too long, tie a knot in the rope up by the handle.
2. Turn the rope from your wrists
“Unlike when you’re running stairs or spinning, your wrists generate the movement. They’re also your accelerator. The faster your wrist turns, the more torque,” he says. Keep your wrists close to your hips and your arms fairly still.
3. Stay on your balls of your feet.
Your heels don’t make contact. And a small bend in the knee is fine. But the less bend in the knee you have, the faster you can go.
4. When you see the rope, jump the rope.
This is key to coordination. “Your hands are a lot faster and smarter than your legs, which have to work to keep up. It’s a dexterity thing that takes practice.” —Melisse Gelula
Ready to put it to work? Click here for Olajide’s 3-minute jump rope workout that you can do anywhere.