The pandemic has seen a series of fitness trends come and go; first there was the total sellout of dumbbells, followed by kettlebells flying off the shelves and then thousand of us investing in resistance bands . The latest workout trend to take the fitness world by storm is skipping, or jump rope as it’s called in America. It's one of the most efficient calorie-burning workouts out there – in fact, hour-four-hour it torches more than a spin class.
Spinning can appeal to you if other workouts leave you cold. Katy Perry, who uses skipping for cardio fitness on tour, told the Daily Mail, "I hate working out, but I love jumping rope. I think it's because it's like dancing; there's a rhythm." Boxers use it also for agility.
It's also the perfect activity for our hybrid working times when we might still be working at home. You don't even have to leave the house, but if you want to you get your daily vitamin D and 10,000 steps it's easy to do on your doorstep or in the garden. One woman whose life has been transformed by skipping since the pandemic and has taken to it with a vengeance is former sales manager Lauren Flymen, from St Albans. The 29-year-old uploads regular skipping tutorials to her 417,000 followers on Instagram, mixing it up between fancy footwork tutorials, beginner guidance and seriously impressive clips of her routines.
Lauren only started skipping in April 2020 as a way to distract herself from her postponed wedding and honeymoon which were due to take place last year but were put on hold by lockdown (she finally got married in September 2021). She also needed something to keep her busy while she was furloughed in the spring from her job as an areas sales manager for a business supplies company.
“Jump rope turned my life around in lockdown,” Lauren says. “Not only am I now the fittest I've ever been and in the best shape I've ever been, it gave me a reason to get out of bed when I wasn’t working, it gave me something to focus on, and it gave me the satisfaction of something to work towards with unlocking new skills. It kept me healthy, it connected me with people around the world and gave me a sense of togetherness.”
Lauren first became interested in jump rope when she saw fitness influencer Carmel Rodriguez incorporate skipping with fancy footwork into her Instagram workouts. "I then came across other accounts such as dance roper Jimmy Reynolds and jump rope champion Tori Boggs and a whole wider community of skipping/jump rope enthusiasts sharing progress with each other and helping each other to learn skills that I'd never seen before," she explains. "I created a separate jump rope account on Instagram within a couple of days of getting my rope so I could tap into the community and share my videos without embarrassing myself in front of my friends on my personal account."
When she set up her dedicated skipping Instagram account, Lauren Jumps, Lauren had no followers, but quickly amassed people who wanted to join her jump rope journey including Davina McCall and Made in Chelsea star Louise Thompson, who has her own fitness brand Pocket Sport. “I realised early on that by filming myself and sharing my journey, I would learn quicker and enjoy the experience more.”
“I am a sporty person, and I grew up doing dance and sports such as squash, netball, lacrosse and athletics so I guess I'm quite coordinated although, that said, skipping made me feel very uncoordinated at first. It's so much harder than it looks. I'm quite a determined person and hate being rubbish at things so I guess I do pick things up quickly due to this.”
A quick browse of Lauren’s Instagram shows off some fancy footwork that skipping novices can only dream of, such as jumping leg cross move 'the toad' and '360 turns' where you pivot full circles while skipping, but she’s definitely put the time in. She spent several hours a day skipping at the beginning and now spends around an hour a day five days a week perfecting her skills. It took a few months to progress to the advanced level she's at now, which has earned her brand deals with fitness names such as Hexxee Socks and TCA activewear, as well as her own range of skipping ropes with Dope Ropes, £19.
Such was a demand for tutorials on her intricate skipping skills including 'crossovers' and 'side-swings' that at the end of 2020 she quit her job to pursue skipping full time.
Online searches for ‘skipping rope workout’ are up 800 per cent this year with more people asking the question ‘is skipping good for weight loss?’. Who better to ask than our new queen of jump rope, Lauren Jumps.
Is skipping good cardio exercise?
That's a big yes, as Lauren's experience bears out and not only because she said she's the fittest she's ever been. "My cardiovascular endurance was lacking so it was a slight shock to the system taking up skipping. At first, I couldn't jump for very long without feeling exhausted. I find it so much easier now and my sessions are often up to an hour with little rest.”
She adds that a good level of strength was useful: “I'd steered clear of cardio for a while because I didn't enjoy it and preferred weight lifting. Before skipping I was lifting weights four times a week so I had a level of fitness from that,” Lauren says.
How many calories do you burn skipping?
Lauren doesn’t track her calorie burn, but when we spoke to Ryan Pickard, co-founder of 12x3 boxing gym in London, he told us that ten minutes of skipping it can have the same health benefits as 45 minutes of running and can burn up to 1200 calories per hour, almost double that of a spin class. Lauren tends to skip for an hour at a time.
What kind of jump rope is best?
Lauren’s followers will have noticed that she jumps over a brightly coloured beaded rope, with beads along the length of the PVC rope, rather than the string ones you might remember from primary school, or the naked PVC ropes you’ve probably seen in the past. Lauren recommends a PVC rope for speed, but if you want to learn tricks, a beaded rope is the way to go. “Beaded ropes are heavier than traditional ropes so are easier to control,” she says. “Other ropes tend to be designed to move with little effort which is great for some tricks but not when you're a beginner who needs to take things slowly or you actually want to manipulate the rope for tricks.”
Lauren Jumps' beginner skipping tips
1. Stay on your toes and don't kick your feet back as you jump.
“This stops you catching the rope on your feet,” Lauren says. Keeping your feet lower to the ground means the rope doesn’t catch on your calves as you bring your feet back down.
2. Keep your hands close to your hips with your elbows tucked behind you.
“Beginners often start with their hands far out to the sides because their rope is too long for them. This puts a lot of strain on the shoulders which are a large muscle group so they end up tiring easily. It's more efficient to keep your hands close to your hips with your elbows tucked behind you and drive the rope underneath you with the energy coming from your elbows. This position also enables you to keep your wrists loose and stay relaxed."
3. Learn to catch the rope under your toes.
"When you’re starting out, toe catches (where you don't jump the rope but simply catch it under your toes and pause) are helpful because it gets you used to correct arm position to jump over the rope and gets you accustomed to timing when to jump."
4. Make sure your rope isn’t too long.
"A long rope will tangle easily and move slowly through the air while a short rope will allow you to move between tricks much more easily.” Lauren recommends using a rope that comes up to your waist when folded in half. She uses a 7 foot 5 inches rope and is 5 foot 8 inches tall.
5. Go easy on the joints
"Put a mat down if you’re skipping on concrete as it can be hard on the joints."
Weighted and fitness skipping ropes to buy now
Lauren's rope of choice, the beads add extra weight and control to help you master skills such as crossovers, 360 turns and side-swings where you need extra weight to manoeuvre the rope more succinctly.
For getting up to speed, this PVC Argos skipping rope with padded handles is a fail-safe.
In pretty colours and with ultra-lightweight beading, these Amazon skipping ropes are a beginner's dream.
MORE GLOSS: Why skipping is the new HIIT