Skipping - who would have thought that my favourite playground activity as a child would turn out to be one of this year’s hottest fitness trends? A core part of boxers’ (some of the fittest athletes on the planet) training programmes, it’s also credited by stars such as Gigi Hadid and Gal Gadot for helping them stay in shape. Now though, it’s become a workout in itself, known as high intensity interval training or the much catchier, ‘HIIS.’
A full-body workout, skipping can burn up to 1200 calories per hour (almost double than of a spin class) and ten minutes of doing it can have the same health benefits as 45 minutes of running, Ryan Pickard, co-founder of 12x3 gym tells me. They’ve just introduced HIIS classes into their schedule, workouts that combine short, sharp bursts of skipping with groundwork and aerobic exercises with short breaks in between.
What are the benefits of HIIS?
“Skipping is one of the best cardio and HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts you can do,” says Ryan. It helps improve timing, balance, coordination and agility and, as a bonus, also tones the upper and lower body muscles and torches fat too. “Jumping up and down is also the best way to stimulate your lymph nodes which is very important for flushing toxins," Ryan tells me.
The good news also is that you don’t have to have the stamina of Anthony Joshua to keep up. The class is designed so all abilities or anyone looking to improve their skill level can take part without feeling self-conscious.
This came as great news to me when I booked in with Ryan for a taster. Work, life and a few consecutive visits from the cold fairy this winter have left my fitness levels flagging. Also, I haven’t skipped in, oh, about twenty years, so to say I had a fair bit of rope rust would be an understatement. Ryan was quick to put me at ease though: “Skipping is like riding a bike, once you get the hang of it, the sky’s the limit. All you need is a bit of space, a high ceiling if you’re training indoors and a rope that suits your height.” What I omitted to tell him though, is that I can’t ride a bike…
MORE GLOSS: Is LISS training just as important as HIIT?
What's a HIIS class like?
It comprises of twelve 3-minute rounds of high intensity skipping and groundwork, the latter featuring moves such as knee-ups, jumping jacks, tuck jumps and my personal favourite (*complete lie*), burpees. There’s also a warm-up to make sure your limbs are feeling suitably limber.
Technique and form are key for staying injury-free and for building up speed and pace. The secret lies in keeping your hand position and your jump height consistent, Ryan told me, so that it feels like you’re controlling the rope rather than the other way around.
It was a test of my endurance, but also my coordination thanks to the incorporation of a range of different skipping ‘tricks’ - crossing your legs on alternate skips, super quick double jumps and criss-cross skips for example. This was my favourite part and really challenged my coordination skills in a way that was engaging, tough and fun.
By the end of my session, I was sweating. Full-on ‘looks like she’s run through a car wash’ kinds of perspiration. I was pushed to my limit, but would absolutely do it again due to the mental workout it provided. It was a real test of my coordination skills, which have slowly been rotting away because of being sat at a computer for most of my working life. It’s probably something a lot of people can relate to.
The new class made skipping as relevant to my life as an adult as it was when I was a kid, I’ll definitely be signing up again. Just as a side note to any ladies reading this though (i.e. probably all of you), make sure to save your best sports bra for your skipping endeavours, it’s not the day to test out a new one (the mistake I made) and make sure to stretch your calves out really well afterwards to keep any post-workout soreness to a minimum. Your legs will thank you later.
Read more: Why you’re exercising and not losing weight