Leaving the holiday season packing a bit more fluff in the middle? You’re not alone. Especially after such one long and difficult year, it can be easy to fall into the comforting embrace of indulgence and a sedentary lifestyle.
For some, that has meant falling into the #Quarantine15 club; and for others — it’s become at times a daily mental struggle to cope with the gloom of 2020. We’re all well aware of the well-documented benefits of light exercise on our mental and physical wellbeing: According to a 2019 Harvard study, just 15 minutes of exercise a day reduces the risk of clinical depression by 26 percent; which is crucial after most of the year — for many — spent in isolation or social distancing from loved ones.
We’re all for different modes of exercise to get you through the day, whether it’s a 15-minute yoga video on YouTube or a HIIT challenge from your favourite fitness influencer. But for something that can bring a little extra spring to your step? We look back at the childhood playground favourite: Skipping rope.
Loved by celebrities from Mike Tyson to Kim Kardashian, jumping rope has seen a resurgence in recent years as its benefits continue to be unearthed by sports scientists. The high intensity exercise quickly raises your heart rate, making it an efficient conditioning workout that can torch fat and improve stamina in very little time. Add a little weight and it’s considered a full-body workout that can burn over 1,000 calories in an hour — but your body will reap the benefits in just small spurts of jumping as short as 10 minutes, which Science Daily claims is equivalent to running an eight-minute mile (just under five minutes per kilometre).
Since the impact of jumping is (usually) absorbed by both legs, jumping rope is also considered lower impact than running — and you can potentially do it in the comfort of your living room, or your favourite spot at the park, sidewalk or wherever you please.
However, it’s clear not all jump ropes were made alike. Your playground ropes that you used to double dutch with obviously aren’t the rubber ropes made for speed at the gym. And what happens when you want to add weights to make your workouts more challenging? Enter Crossrope: A North Carolina-based brand founded in 2012 that sells premium jump ropes that go with a dedicated fitness app. Lifestyle Asia was recently sent a pack of Crossropes to review, and here are our thoughts.
What is it?
With a range of interchangeable, weighted ropes and touting an ergonomic handle design, they’ve been touted as the “Ferrari of skipping ropes.” The price tag matches the description, too — a set of grips and the most basic ¼-lb rope will set you back US$78 (approx. HK$604), while the most expensive bundle can cost up to US$238 (approx. HK$1,845). Rope weights range from 1 oz if you’re looking to practice speed, to 5 lbs for those looking for a heavy endurance and muscle-building workout. Each set comes with a carrying pouch, which will make it handy for day trips or future vacations when you want to get a quick workout in your packed schedule.
According to my needs and height, I opted for the ‘Get Lean’ set in medium — with ½ lb and ¼ lb weighted ropes and one set of thin silicone grips in the company’s motif of melon green, charcoal and white. There are other colour combinations on offer, but only for other weights and handle sizes. The ropes were 8’6” (2.59m) in length, geared towards people between 5’4.5”–5’9” (1.64-1.75m), though I found it difficult to do smooth jumps in a row unless I wound the ropes one more time around each hand — clearly the rope is just a smidge too long for my 5’6” frame, though I suppose I could practise jumping higher and keeping my hands wider!
The grips were lightweight and comfortable to hold, with the silicone slightly tacky to the touch — which came in handy when my hands started sweating halfway through my first short workout. Featuring smooth ball bearings in each handle, this means your ropes get a smooth rotation each time, fastened by a patented fast clip system to let you use the same handles and interchange between light and heavy ropes even mid-workout.
The added slight weight in the ropes, a result of a braided steel inner, is what stops them from tangling like your average thin rubber ropes. They’re definitely more durable and offer more feedback every time you jump, making it easier for beginners. While the ½ lb rope was just a slight weight addition, you can quickly feel the increased effort required to maintain your cadence.
Jumping on wooden floors in a Hong Kong apartment like me? You might find that all the heavy whiplash of your ropes will soon scuff those surfaces — not to mention annoy your downstairs neighbours. You can invest in one of Crossrope’s jumping mats, but I just rolled out my yoga mat to solve the problem.
To me, the best thing about Crossrope is the app, which offers free access to a library of full-body workouts categorised into strength, cardio, fat-burning and muscle building goals as well as categories such as HIIT, strength training and endurance. They run from 12 to 44 minutes. I tried one geared at beginners that alternated Tabata-style between single jumps and bodyweight exercises such as squats, pushups and mountain climbers, and it quickly got my heart pumping and out of breath; though I have to say it got a bit dull and repetitive. Medium-difficulty workouts gave more of a challenge with more advanced moves and faster paced jumps. With time, the Crossrope app also keeps on adding new exciting challenges to its rota, while providing a beginner section with tutorials for double unders, criss-crosses and more advanced jump rope techniques.
Premium users, however, get a lot more features, such as the full database of Crossrope workouts, and a new counter mode that will help you keep track of how many jumps you’ve done.
If you’re not already subscribed to the plethora of online workouts or personal training programmes out there, Crossrope could provide a new way to work out — but only if you’re armed with the dedication to master a few new tricks as you progress with your fitness level. The Crossrope system will definitely make you a better jump roper in the long run. However, if hand-eye coordination isn’t your forte, you could tire of the basic workouts very quickly. That being said, if you can dedicate 15 minutes each day to jumping rope, we’re sure you’ll agree that it’s probably one of the most fun and efficient ways to get you sweating and burning calories in the new year.
Learn more at Crossrope
(Header image credit: Element5 Digital/Unsplash)