the strategist

The Life-Changing Magic of a Jump Rope

Like so many people blindsided by heartbreak, I recommitted to the gym earlier this year — less for health or vanity than the endorphins that become the only reliable, momentary relief from a daily routine of being swallowed whole by the dark, awful pit of sadness that comes with it. But the same stuff (treadmill, weights, push-ups, etc.) got boring, quickly running up against the law of diminishing returns. I decided to buy a jump rope.

The science on the most effective workouts as “fun” are substantial, and I’d always heard jumping rope is a better bang for your buck than so many other workouts. True or not, Big Jumprope’s got good messaging.

Starting a jump-rope regimen is a comically humbling, brutal experience. You’ll look ridiculous, and that won’t even account for all the times you smack yourself in the head. I started out jumping high, like I was trying to clear a high curb. My legs were stiff; my feet pounded the floor — it looked like Prancercise modified for CIA torture, and sounded like an audition for STOMP. My shins and ankles — screaming, to say nothing of the first time I tried an alternating foot jump and limped out on what felt like a slashed hamstring. A colleague ominously told me he gave himself plantar fasciitis jumping rope. The outlook wasn’t good.

But incrementally, you improve. You watch some YouTube videos. You start bending your knees. You keep your elbows in. You realize it’s mostly about rhythm. You realize “Panda” might be the greatest jumping beat, like, ever. “Phip, phip,” becomes “phip phip phip” becomes “phipphipphipphipphipphipphipphip.” After a few weeks and welts, you stick your first crossover, and feel like you’re ready for the Olympic qualifiers, or citizenship in Rhythm Nation.

The right rope is crucial, though. I had to Goldilocks my way through a few, and finally found this adjustable jump rope (that comes in a range of snappy color combinations). Its grips are weighty, but not heavy. It’s easily adjusted. The rope itself isn’t too light (so that you feel like you’re jumping over air), or too thick (murder on your wrists, and shoulders). It’s perfect.

Eventually, your heartbreak wanes. You might drop a few pounds. You’ll have an entirely new appreciation for The Life of Pablo or Classixx’s “Just Let Go.” And you might even look cool doing this, so long as you can avoid grinning like an idiot once you start to get it down. Little secret? That’s actually the hardest part.

Buy It: $11 at Amazon

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The Life-Changing Magic of a Jump-Rope Workout