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Muay Thai taught me many things.

It taught me that I am strong, both physically and emotionally. It taught me that my body is capable of incredible things, if I dare to push it outside my comfort zone. It also taught me to appreciate the art of kickboxing, because when done in a respectful atmosphere, it truly is beautiful art (rather than the simple act of violence I once thought it was).

More than anything though, Muay Thai taught me how to jump rope.

I was not the kid in elementary school who spent time jumping rope to cool rhymes. I was bad at it, and spent my recess on the field playing soccer with my guy pals instead. So, needless to say, when I started Muay Thai I had a lot of catching up to do.

I remember being so embarrassed when I started over my complete lack of skills. I could get the rope around about three times before I would fail miserably and it would catch on my toe (which I, of course, blamed on the size of my ogre feet). But everyone else was so good, and they inspired me to do better. If you have been to a boxing gym, and have heard the lovely whizzing symphony of 20 people skipping, you know what I’m on about.

The truly great thing about skipping is that you notice your improvement immediately. Every single class I went to started with 20 minutes of skipping, which felt like an eternity at first! But rather quickly, day-by-day, I got better.

So what does this mean for you? If the chilly embrace of winter has put a kink in your regular outdoor workout routine, or if you are looking for something new, I urge you to give skipping a try.

Why? Well, for one thing, it’s cheap. A good quality rope will cost you about 10 dollars. Also, it can be taken with you everywhere, and you don’t need very much room to do it. Trust me, if my partner and I can both jump rope at the same time in our 450 square foot apartment, you can find space to do it too.

So what about the physical benefits?

Skipping is not just about burning the calories (although 1 minute of skipping burns anywhere from 11-20 calories, depending on your intensity). It’s also about improving your coordination, balance, reflexes, endurance, and resistance. It takes concentration and focus, and it truly is a full body workout. If you’ve done it, you know what I’m talking about.

Tips for Beginners:

When you first start, you will need to take some time to get good at it. Once you become accomplished at the basic notion of jumping up and down on the balls of your feet with a rope, you can start to get fancy. These fancy moves are where the true conditioning starts.

Some of this stuff is pretty advanced, but the longer your rope, and the more you practice, the easier it will be to do them.

I jump rope in my living room, on my wooden floor and on top of my yoga mat. Many different surfaces will do just fine, but if there is a bit of springy-ness it is better for your joints.

Put on some music with a beat that you think you can keep up to. Keep your elbows by your side, back straight, chest out, and rotate your wrists rather than your arms. I find when I start to get tired my wrists start to get lazy.

Time yourself. See how long you can go without mucking up. You will be amazed at how quickly this time will improve. And when you do trip up, get back into the flow quickly. Skipping is not about dilly dallying.

“It’s important to always keep switching your patterns up. You can do double-foot hops, single-foot hops, criss-crosses, toe-to-heel, and even running in one spot. If your arms are starting to burn (which they will), learn how to do side skips and arm-crosses to relieve some of the tension from your arms.” [source]

There is an awesome blog post at about skipping, including how to choose a rope, at Bloomtofit.com, that you should fo’ sho check out if this article has piqued your interest in skipping at all. You won’t regret it!