Jumping rope is often touted as the cardio exercise that will get you the most bang for your buck, burning 250 calories in just a 20 minute workout!** Don't even get me started on the toned legs, sculpted arms, and whittled middle that comes along with it!
As with any exercise, it is important to keep proper form to protect your spine, knees, ankles, and to prevent attacking yourself with swinging ropes (hitting yourself is the worst). #1: Make sure your rope is the right length: When standing with both feet on the center of the rope, the handles should reach just at your armpits. Any shorter, get a new rope! Any longer, tie knots in the ends. Keep your knees soft. Jump on the balls of your feet, only about an inch or so off the ground and refrain from the "double-bounce". Keep your head up, gaze forward and engage your core to ensure proper spinal alignment. When turning the rope, it's all in the wrists! Keep your elbows bent at a 90 degree angle at your sides, moving your hands in small circles to turn the rope.
Once you get the hang of jumping rope, you can add variety to your workout by busting some super-smooth moves. Practice doing scissor jumps, jumping side to side or back and forth in a bell motion, criss-cross leg jumps, jump-kicks (can-can, anyone?), or double-unders (jumping once but twirling the rope under you twice)--you know, for the over-achievers. Click here for a 20 minute jump rope workout from SELF Magazine.
I feel this is also when I should admit this is my secret talent. It's the only exercise I'm better at than my trainer (and I remind him every chance I get). In the second grade, I wound up on our school's jump rope team and like riding a bike, the skill has stuck with me since. I conclude with a picture of me showcasing my mad skill (because it makes me laugh).
On that note, feel free to take some advice some House of Pain and "Jump Around"!
**calories based on 145lb woman