The other day I took a jump rope class at Equinox. If you are reading that and just feeling like “WHY THO?” I understand. That had been my same response every other time I have seen “THE CUT: Jump Rope” (as it is aptly/vaguely/intensely named) in the Wednesday morning class lineup. Why would I ever want to do that? I didn’t. Until on a Tuesday night when I suddenly was like “yeah 30 minutes of intense cardio, in, out, on my way. Just hopping around. That sounds like what I’m looking for at 8:05am tomorrow morning” WRONG DELANEY, WRONG. There is a reason you normally go to barre or yoga and that is because you are not a high impact person! You are not a scary, heavy breathing, ponytail-whipping-your-own-eyes type of girl! You know this! You knoooooow it.
But on Tuesday night, I forgot. I just forgot who I was. And I woke up the next day and went to jump rope class.
Let's acknowledge right now that there is a universal, low-level of anxiety that comes with going to a workout class you've never gone to before. Let me project this onto you because if I assume everyone else is feeling the same thing, then it makes mine slightly less. I don't care if you don't actually experience that anxiety. According to me, you do. WE ALL DO. So here I am experiencing my low-level pre-class anxiety and sizing up the other people coming to this class. It's always a great feeling when I walk into class and it's a bunch of over-40 ladies. Those are my ideal peers. Because that is the level of effort I like to exert—like I've already raised two kids and am coasting through pre-menopause and I can just thank MYSELF for even showing up to a class today. Showing up IS the class. I love working out with ladies like that.
"THE CUT: Jump Rope" is not for 40 year old ladies. It is for 28-35 year old men who probably were dramatically breathing during their bicep curls just before this class and are going to go do power cleans after it. Guys who listen to their own pump up music before a class starts. Like, I KNOW you can hear the Nicki Minaj the instructor is playing over the speakers through the scary rap in your earbuds right now—is that enjoyable for you?
This is NOT my ideal exercise peer set.
So you get to class and you need to get your jump rope and it needs to be the right size. Who remembers that jump ropes came in different lengths? Not me. I am given a medium by the instructor because isn't medium just the catch all for everything? Yes. Some people are assessing the size of their jump rope by stepping on it and examining how far up the sides of their body the handles are when pulled taut. Some people (me) are doing this to look like they know what they are doing.
Everyone gets two ropes. One is your standard, plastic jump rope. The other is bright yellow and somewhere between the thickness of an extension cord and a garden hose. And, the instructor informs us, it is weighted throughout the length of the rope, not just the handles (apparently something I should be impressed by in the world of jump rope innovation). This way, when it inevitably comes whapping down upon me, I can feel the surge of a two pound whip against my shins. Amazing. (Also know that upon re-reading the class description while writing this, I learned its called a FURY rope. That's not even my capitalization. They do that. All-caps FURY rope).
Anyways class is this: three 7-minute intervals separated by multiple rounds of "active recovery" which is basically just more exercise, but without a jump rope. Throughout these rounds you are encouraged to work on "tricks" aka criss-crossing your legs back and forth as you jump, or alternating kicking your heels out in front of you, or doing high knees (which by my assessment are already hell when you're NOT spinning a rope around your body). So 7 minutes of the regular jump rope. 7 minutes of weighted garden hose (jk just the thick terrible jump rope). 7 minutes do whatever you want with whichever jump rope and "tricks" you want, which basically says to me that Equinox was not creative enough to think of more wacky things to instruct you to do with a jump rope so they ensconced it in a choose-your-own-adventure type package. I SEE YOU EQUINOX. I come to class to be told to work out! I don't need to be told "do whatever you want". I tell myself that every day. And you know what I do then? Choose not to workout.
But we should revisit these "tricks" because, beyond being a hilarious misnomer, they are also IMPOSSIBLE FOR ME TO COMPLETE. I quickly learn that I am borderline incapable of jumping rope. Here's the instructor coaching everyone through kicking out their heels left, right, left, right, to the beats of Justin Timberlake's newest single and I'm in the back row (strategic newcomer placement) internally talking myself through flicking my wrists quick enough to have one jump per rope rotation instead of two jumps. I am also inevitably tripping over the rope every sixth rotation. At the end of my 7 minutes I am rewarded with 30 seconds of burpees and a 1 minute break.
So yeah, things are going rough straight from the jump (wow no pun intended there but it was good). By the time we get into our second 7-minute set of weighted jump rope, I am fully aware it will be hell. It was everything my first round was (tripping, hitting myself, taking breaks, zero tricks) but with 2 pounds of weight involved. I realize this doesn't sound like a lot, but there is FORCE being generated. The force of my arms creating MOMENTUM. And CENTRIPETAL MOTION. And, you know, PHYSICS. At the end of the second 7 minutes, my pony tail is all over the place. Sticking to my sweaty face. Whipping my unprepared eyeballs. Getting stuck flipped over my head like a bad toupee.
As promised, last 7 minutes of class I could do whatever I wanted (lay down?) with whichever rope I preferred (neither rope, thank you). The instructor said we should spend time "working on our tricks" because class is an opportunity to "practice and perfect". I took the lighter jump rope and proceeded to just pray for the end of class so hard that I don't really remember what I did for those 420 seconds. I tripped over my own rope multiple times. I wondered if you could go blind from being repeatedly struck in the eyes by the frayed split ends of a ponytail (honestly I know I keep bringing this up, but if you've never been whipped by a ponytail in the bare eyeball, its a very specific and memorable type of pain).
Class ended eventually. I emerged 30 minutes later with that really sexy, tomato-red, can’t-stop-sweating glow that we all love. The kind that lets everyone know you worked out—but just a bit too hard. On the walk to work, I mentally added jumping roping to list of things I did as a child with ease, but are now scary and difficult as an adult.
- cartwheeling (tbh I could never do this, but in theory I think it belongs here)
- monkey bars
- JUMP ROPE
Submissions to the list are welcome, but I don’t promise to try them out to verify.