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Sheena was a jump roper…okay, fine, maybe she wasn't. But if Tim Haft's Punk Rope workout had been around in the '70s the Ramones may have written a slightly different song.
The full-body interval training class was developed by Haft—a Brooklyn-based certified personal trainer and running coach— to improve stamina, agility, coordination, balance, rhythm, and timing. Obviously jumping rope is a big-time calorie burner, but it's also been shown to strengthen and tone upper and lower body muscles while increasing bone density.
The 60-minute classes, which are currently held in three New York City gyms, consist of 14 intervals: two warm-ups, five jumping segments, three drills or games, two relay races, a core training session, and a cool-down. Oh, and it's a collaborative workout, so you do all of this with a rotating cast of partners.
The drills are selected for their relevance to the week's theme —yes, no two classes are ever the same. For example, during the Oktoberfest session you'll do a pub "crawl," there's a "stop, drop, rock and roll" exercise in the Back to School class, and if you stop by on Cinco de Mayo be prepared to shimmy through a revved-up version of the Mexican Hat Dance.
About the soundtrack: despite the workout's name, you'll be jumping rope to more than just punk. Haft loads his playlists with calypso, classical, country, dancehall, disco, electronica, funk, and jazz too.
As for the actual jump roping, Haft's got a little more information on that:
What would you say is the hardest part of this workout?
"For most folks the hardest part of Punk Rope is probably getting accustomed to playing with others. Most adult fitness classes allow the individual to work out in a bubble so it may take a little attitude adjustment to get comfortable with so much interactivity. The hardest part, fitness-wise, is probably the rope jumping segments as new students will need to develop their rhythm, timing, coordination, and stamina."
So then what would you say is the easiest part?
"The warm-up and cooldown are the easiest parts. And letting the energy of the music take you out of your head and into an altered state. Also, when so many of the students around you are laughing and smiling, everything becomes much easier, even some of the tough drills."
As for the rope jumping, how many different varieties of jumps will participants get to experience?
"In each class we typically include 10 to 15 different steps spread out over the five jumping intervals. The first interval focuses on the basic bounce and rotation; the second on timing and coordination; the third on agility; the fourth on endurance; and the last on a particular challenge. Students who are not able to perform the more advanced jumps are encouraged to stick with the basic bounce or spin their ropes to the side."
And how do you choose these jumps?
"The jumps are dictated primarily by the music, which is dictated by the theme. Because we change our themes weekly we have an enormous array of music to choose from ranging from samba to ska from rock to reggae from calypso to classical and so on. We try to pick jumps which correspond to the rhythm and tempo of the music. A great example is doing double-unders to "Shipping Up to Boston" by the Dropkick Murphys."
Got any overall tips to keep in mind?
"The main things to keep in mind are to try and let go of your preconceived notions of group exercise. Be open and friendly and some really good things will happen. With rope jumping, be patient with yourself. It may take a few sessions before you feel like you're not constantly tangled up in spaghetti. For those who are really struggling we offer the We're Not Trippin' Trainer as an alternative to the rope."