Favorite Exercise #1: Jump Rope

In elementary school we ran a fundraiser every year called Jump Rope for Heart.  You had to get sponsors and jump rope for so many minutes in gym class each day.  I also remember not being very good at it, as I was most sports. I lacked the coordination and cardio strength to be successful at jump rope.  This left me feeling like a failure, unfit and added to my self doubt.  As a child, I always blamed myself for not being able to do certain movements in gym class or at sports practice.  Now that I am studying fitness training and how programs should progress, I realize how unprepared I was for many of the movements that they expected us to be able to do.  Did we jump rope each day for just a few minutes before being asked to do it for 20? No.  Did we do supportive strength exercise for the muscles needed to jump rope? No.  Did we do cardio regularly? Maybe 5 minutes to start each class.  The problem was in the program, not the exercise.

Now I love to Jump Rope.  I use jump rope as my cardio in a circuit before anything else.  I love to jump rope and I recently learned to do Double Unders. (Two rotations of the rope in one jump) Here’s some benefits to jumping rope:

  1.  It’s super cheap!  You can find speed or regular jump ropes on Amazon for $5-$8 that will actually last for a while and start you on your path of jumping rope.  You don’t even have to buy one when you’re starting. (See Invisible Rope below!)
  2.  It’s portable!  You can literally jump rope anywhere and everywhere.  I used to have a jump rope in my office for quick cardio bursts.  I have a jump rope with me almost everywhere I go.  It’s so easy to get in a few quick minutes.
  3. It’s a HIGH calorie burner! Jumping rope is one of the only activities that burns calories as quickly as running, without actually having to run. 10-16 calories a minute! 
  4. Good for the Brain! Jumping rope is great for the brain because it demands both physical and mental focus.  In order to do it correctly, so many systems need to work together.  
  5. Agility! One of the typical mental images of jumping rope is a boxer.  The reason for this is because boxer’s jump rope for the foot strength and agility on the balls of their feet.  Always jump rope on the ball of your feet! 
  6. Bone Density! Most people would be surprised to hear that jumping rope is better for your joints than running because the shock is absorbed by both legs instead of one at a time.   

Source Article: 6 Surprising Benefits of Jumping Rope

While I’ve been jumping rope for a few years now, I tried to go back and think about how I really learned.  Hopefully this helps a few of you be more successful:

  1.  Just get your feet moving: Sometimes starting with a rope just hurts.  If you are hitting yourself every few jumps, you’re never going to want to continue.  If you have fear of the rope, it could even get worse.  Jump rope with an “Invisible Rope” first.  Jump to the beat of the song.
  2. Watch yourself in a mirror: Now, watching yourself jump rope can be quite shocking if you have as many ‘nonfirm parts’ as I do. 🙂  Just watch your feet.  If you are jumping with the invisible rope from step 1, make sure both feet are off the ground at the same time BEFORE adding the rope.
  3. Rope Progression: Start with a softer rope, even one of the beaded ‘playground’ ropes.  DO NOT get one that is so soft that it holds NO shape when you are jumping.  (Even though they are usually super cute and brite) Work your way to a wire or thin speed rope to do more complicated jumps.  As you learn to jump rope, you’ll learn what you like in a jump rope.  If the rope is messing you up after you’ve been practicing a while, it could be the rope. 🙂 Length of rope is also important.  To measure, stand on the rope and the handles should meet your armpits.  Some ropes are child length and some are for giants.  It makes a big difference.
  4. Exercise those muscles: Jump Rope uses all of your leg muscles and even into your glute. (Duh!) Any additional leg strength exercises that you can do are going to benefit your jumping rope.  Calf raises, lunges, squats, deadlifts…..it’s all good!
  5. Time: I started with a timer for jumping intervals.  At first I could go for a minute and eventually two.  The more I tried, the better I got.  You can see yourself improving with this exercise easily.  Now I count my jumps because I find it keeps me more accountable.  Now, if I use a timer, I’ll just slowly jump.  But if I give myself a number, I’ll try to get it done ASAP!  A typical AMRAP or Circuit for me these days has 200 single jumps and 20 double unders each round.
  6. Keep Trying!  Don’t let more than a few days pass before practicing again!  With jump rope, muscle memory is key, so just keep trying.  I think you’ll get addicted pretty quick!  Get that heart pumping!
  7. Form is really everything:
    1. RELAX!  When you are jumping rope, relax everything as much as you can.  This includes: knees, hips, calves, shoulders and especially neck.  Keep your body aligned but relaxed.
    2. Jump Up and Down: I know how this sounds but what I mean is, jump in the same exact place each time.  If you are finding yourself moving forward or backward, your body isn’t aligned.  This can lead to knee and hip pain.  Until you are more advanced, you may lack the proper ankle and foot strength to do fancy jumps.
    3. Don’t jump so high: Half the time I see new ropers, they are jumping 18 inches in the air!  You literally need just a few inches for the rope to pass below you.  The more force you use to jump up, the more force you put on your joints when you return to absorb the jump and reload for the next.  Also, a higher jump takes more time.  The closer you remain to the earth while you’re jumping rope, the faster you will become and the healthier your joints will be.
    4. Shhhhhhh!  You should listen to yourself jumping rope just like you watch your feet.  If you sound like a herd of elephants, your putting an elephant’s worth of force on your joints.  If you sound like a mouse……duh.  Try to make as little sound as possible when you’re jumping rope.  This keeps your joints light and your form in check.  Aways jump on the pads of your feet.  Not your toes.  Not your heels.  Trust me.



I’m a Dirty Girl!

So word is apparently getting around that I like to lift heavy things, climb like a monkey and run in the mountains, preferably while covered in dirt. Two or three weeks ago my friend/colleague/trainer Matt asked me if I would fill in a place for someone who had dropped out for a Mud Run.  Matt is my weightlifting coach at the gym where I work (still weird to say….) and lets me come to his class and disrupt the men in their routine by adding sass and slowing everyone down. 🙂 He’s also the size of a refrigerator. So when he pulled a pink tutu out of his bag, I could hardly contain my excitement.  Matt’s girlfriend, Sarah, had someone drop out of her team for the upcoming Dirty Girl Mud Run.  The tutu and matching princess socks were the required costume.  He was willing to take over my shift so I could go run in the mountains covered in dirt.  What a guy!

So of course I agreed to the race without even considering it much of a question.  I signed up; put on my tutu and met up with the girls.  I was running the race with Sarah and Krista, each of us in our required tutu.  I felt like I knew Sarah through Matt but I was meeting Krista for the first time.  The last time I agree to a race without looking it up and ran with strangers, (Tough Mudder 2015) it was the most fun I’d ever had on a race.  So I figured it was worth the risk. AND WE HAD A BLAST.

The Dirty Girl Mud Run is a 5K course in Copper Mountain with 10-12 obstacles.  It was attainable for all levels and a great race for newbies.  This was Sarah and Krista’s first obstacle race and I knew that I was agreeing to go their pace and be a supportive team member.  To be a total cocky jerk, the race was really simple for me.  I tried to focus on being patient, encouraging my teammates and having fun with racing.  Check check and check.  It was a great day.

I almost got emotional a few times on the course.  I’d never run an all female race before.  Also, I’d never done one with so many of my ghosts along the path.  Again, to be a total jerk: Most races that I run now, I NEVER would have been able to do before.  I rarely see someone the size that I used to be in a race and never anyone bigger than that.  Most races I run, my old self wouldn’t have even knew existed. This race is attainable for everyone so I saw so many versions of myself along the course.   I remember one girl in particular.  We were coming up to a climbing rig with: a cargo net climb to the top, horizontal traverse across a cargo net and then slide down a fireman’s pole; then crawl through the bubble pit to the other side.   The whole thing was maybe 12-15 feet up in the air.  Ahead of me I saw someone who was larger than my past self just giving everything she had to get to the top.  But down below I saw my old self.  She was standing to the side and wasn’t even going to try.  Both my teammate Sarah and I tried to encourage her to try and offered to help her.  It was clear she was just going to watch.

I wanted to encourage her more and fill her with a sense of inspiration and rigor to give it a go, but she was so defeated before she began.  I saw myself in her eyes.  I knew she would never try; no matter what I said.  I watched so many women that day accomplish something they never thought they could.  One woman was frozen at the top of a long slide and my team spent a long time trying to encourage her.  Eventually she told us to go.  She had the biggest smile on her face when we found her at the finish line to tell us that she had done it!  But to the girl at the cargo net, she wouldn’t know.  She wouldn’t know what that was like.  I don’t know that woman.  Maybe just walking the course was her goal that day.  Maybe that brought her more joy than the obstacle would have anyway.  But I saw it in her eyes.

Defeat. Not defeat from fear of the height or the obstacle.  But defeat from even trying.  I’d been in that place so many times.  Here’s what I think she was going through her head:

I’m to heavy for that.  Will the obstacle even hold me? I’m not supposed to do those things.  What if I fail in front of everyone? I know I can’t do it.

These phrases kept me from even trying to lose weight so many times.  “I know I can’t do it.  I’ve tried already. What if I fail?” Fear of failure is something I deal with everyday of my life.  Its something that I struggle with in everything I do.  But I keep trying.  I keep failing and trying to be ok with it.  I’m trying to be ok with not being able to do EVERYTHING.  But it’s hard.  My fear of failure made me miss out on so many things in life.  I’m not letting it rob me anymore.  I almost missed out on the most beautiful Saturday on Copper Mountain with the most beautiful of ladies! 🙂


Anyone visiting the site lately would see that I have been quite remiss at keeping you up to date on my struggles and accomplishments but this time, I have a really good reason.


For the past 9 months I have been balancing Teaching Full Time, Working at the gym as a club assistant part time, Interning as a personal trainer part time, studying for CPT certification, maintaining my marriage and fitness level, and trying to be an adult.  Whew.  That was a long sentence.  It’s been an even longer 9 months.

Last week was my last week of teaching for the forseeable future.  While I could turn this post into a long list of reasons of why I left teaching, that’s not what you’re here for.  I am officially unemployed in education.  That feels weird to say.  I’ve been teaching for 10 years and this year, I finally made the switch. I’ve been considering becoming a personal trainer since first getting bit by the fitness bug in 2014.  I used to think, “How cool would I be to be at the gym all day, working out and helping people…..but that would be way too hard and nearly impossible to do while teaching……”

Similar to my obesity, I found every excuse in the book not to switch careers or follow my dream.  Here’s what’s REQUIRED to become a personal trainer:

  1. Certification
  2. Get hired

Some gyms require a bachelors in Exercise Science but a lot don’t really care.  I always made excuses of why I couldn’t do it.  I couldn’t take time off teaching! (Turns out I didn’t have to) There’s no way I could balance all of that and not let my health slip! (Check! Done!) There’s no way I could ever leave teaching because I love it so much! (False.  I didn’t have the confidence to believe I COULD do something else.)

It’s been my dream to be a personal trainer for years.  This year I had the opportunity laid out before and every door opened through my journey.  This was the year that I switched my life and changed all over again.  People say “I could never do that” when I talk about three areas of my life: losing weight, moving across the country and now, changing careers.  But the truth really is: if you want it bad enough, you’ll make it happen.  Those three changes have completed changed my life and made me happier than I thought I could be.  How cool is that?

So over this summer, look for lots of changes on the blog.  I want to update the homepage, new photos, the works!  I can also now (legally) give workout advice and routines with some confidence that I know what I’m talking about!  What an exciting journey!

Summer Subjects to look forward to:

Mud Runs!

Least favorite/Most favorite exercises

What’s a Macro?

A runners body…..

Summer Recipes

Quick Tips