Not-so-secret confession: I absolutely despise pretty much all forms of cardio. The only time you’ll ever see me running is when my editor asks me to write a story about it. (And I’ll likely be complaining the whole time.) If you ask me to go to spin class, you’ll get the same reaction as if you asked me to go throw rocks at puppies. I’d rather give up matcha than do endless tuck jumps at boot camp. Luckily, I do love dancing and playing tennis—so it’s not like I’m not totally neglecting my heart health. But all of my go-to aerobic activities require more than an hour’s commitment, and who has time for that during the work week? A half-hour is pretty much all I can squeeze in Monday through Friday, and I usually default to strength training via my Tone It Up app.
So when I received an email about Crossrope‘s Infinity Rope system—a set of weighted jump-ropes billing itself as “the world’s most efficient workout,” with an obsessed community of over 75,000 fans on Facebook—I was intrigued. First of all, I was the queen of jump-roping at elementary school field day, and picking it up again sounded kinda fun. Then, there’s the fact that the system includes an at-home guided training app à la Peloton, with workouts as short as 10 minutes. (Although unlike Peloton, these are audio-only and not led by superstar instructors.) I can do anything for 10 minutes—including raising my heart rate over 100 BPM—right?
Hopeful that I may have finally found an everyday cardio option, I asked Infinity Rope to send me a set to try. They obliged—and I let the box sit next to my front door for three months before I opened it. (Like I said, I really hate cardio.) Once I finally did, I found a refreshingly uncomplicated setup: A pair of sleek white and mint-green handles, which could be clipped on to a mint-green 1/4 lb. rope or a white 1/2 lb. rope. The jump ropes would look cute with my activewear—first test, passed. But would they also pass my “workouts that aren’t the worst” test? Here’s what happened when I added tech-enhanced weighted jump ropes into my routine.
Why the heck would you want to use a weighted jump rope?
The whole idea with the Infinity Rope system is that you can swap out the various weighted ropes with the handles to make your workout harder or easier. Along with the set in my possession, there’s also a set that includes 1 lb. and 2 lb. ropes—but that seemingly minimal amount of weight is super challenging in jump-roping terms, and it’s for way more advanced athletes than myself.
Why weighted ropes? For one thing, it’s actually easier to maintain a consistent rhythm with a heavier jump rope than a lighter one, says Crossrope CMO Serge Popovic. “When people try to learn how to jump rope with a very light PVC rope, which is the standard rope you’ll find in any gym, the challenge is that it’s so light that you can’t feel the rope turning around your body,” he explains. “At that point, it becomes very difficult to time your jumps, no matter how coordinated you are.” (Cue getting tripped and tangled up in the rope.) “But when you put a half pound rope into your hands, it offers enough feedback so you know exactly when to time your jumps, and it slows down the pace so you’re not wildly swinging the rope around your body.” And the less time you spend resetting yourself after you stumble, the more actual working out you can do.
Plus, as you can imagine, weighted ropes also help you engage more muscles during your workout. “With the regular PVC rope, you’re getting a light engagement of the shoulders, the core to stabilize yourself, and the calves because you’re jumping,” says Popovic. “But once you start introducing heavier ropes, your whole upper body is [engaged] because you’re trying to control this weight: the traps, the back, your arms from your fingertips to your shoulders, your core is lit up. There’s more cardio exertion when using heavier ropes as well.”
This freaked me out a little, but I kept going back to the thought that the workouts I’d be trying are so short. On the app, there’s nothing over 25 minutes, even for advanced skippers. That’s because jumping rope really is a crazy-efficient workout. According to the National Institutes of Health, it burns more calories in an hour than walking, swimming, jogging, cycling, and rowing. The only thing that can equal it is running a 7.5-minute mile, which I definitely can not do. One oft-cited study from the ’60s found that 10 minutes of skipping is equivalent to 30 minutes of jogging, so even if I did the shortest workout on the app, I’d still be getting in a respectable workout for the day. Not mad at that.
Might as well jump…
Once I’d unboxed my ropes and downloaded the app, I was ready to give the workout a whirl. There was only one problem: I live in a tiny, second floor apartment and I’m not a gym member, so I wasn’t sure where to actually do it. After scoping out some parks around me and finding minimal flat surfaces, I decided the best option would be to hit up a nearby parking lot early in the morning, when it was still empty. I felt kind of exposed, but I kept repeating my “only 10 minutes” mantra and got over my shyness pretty quickly.
Actually, the first workout I chose ended up being 13 minutes long. Might as well go hard in the name of research, right? It consisted of 30 seconds of jumping alternated with 30 seconds of rest, switching from the lighter rope to the heavier one halfway through. I tapped the “start” button, and a woman’s voice started guiding me through the various moves—a few rounds of basic, two-footed jumps; a few rounds of alternating feet (which looked a lot like running, but was far less unpleasant IMO); and a few rounds of jumping-jack feet. The interval format made the time go by really quickly, and the mash-up of different skills kept the workout from getting boring. Oh, and Popovic was right—I didn’t trip over the rope once during the entire workout, which made me feel very smug.
A few other things I liked: I was able to play my Spotify app in the background, and there were video tutorials for all the various moves that I could watch in advance. That way, I knew what to do when the instructor called them out during the workout. (I asked Popovic if he’s planning to add video to the actual workouts in the future, and he said it’s under consideration. However, I don’t think it’s necessary, because you can’t have your phone within a normal range of visibility when you’re rapidly swinging a heavy rope around.)
By the end of the workout, I was, indeed, as winded as if I’d just run for 30 minutes. In fact, an elderly man came over while I was huffing and puffing to see if I needed help. (It was very kind of him and also says a lot about my cardiovascular fitness level.) And I got to that point in less time than I’d usually spend scrolling Instagram.
So, what’s the verdict?
I’m kind of shocked to be saying this, but I’ve decided I’m going to do a quick jump-rope sesh a few mornings per week. It was super-quick, it kept me engaged, and I’m going to score some major health benefits from it, from improvements in bone density and coordination to, surely, better endurance. The only caveat is that the Infinity Rope system is a lot more expensive than your average weighted jump rope—sets range from $88 to $198, depending on the weights and number of ropes you choose, whereas you can score (admittedly less well-constructed) weighted ropes on Amazon for around $20 each. But I’d be willing to pay pretty much anything if it meant finally calling a truce in my lifelong war against cardio.
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