Workout of the Week: Jumping Rope

Jump rope coach Susan Waldrop with Alice Greene, Franklin Pilcher, Lizzy Bruce, and Kira Bruce (left to right). — Photo courtesy of Alice Greene

Skipping to the lou with the “Island Whirlwinds” jump-rope team.

Jump-roping has long been regarded as a simple pastime, usually a short-lived phase of childhood. I remember jumping rope as a child, the silent counting, or the competitions with siblings and neighbors during sweaty Martha’s Vineyard summers. But as my early youth faded, more commitment-based sports replaced my basic jump-roping.

When I heard about Susan Waldrop’s efforts to gather a jump-roping team at the Vineyard Workout and Tennis Center, I decided to give “The Island Whirlwinds” a whirl. Ms. Waldrop founded the Lightning Bolts jump rope team, from Morristown, New Jersey,  and led them to the Junior Olympics. In her role as coach, Ms. Waldrop accompanied her team to competitions alongside such teams as  “The Forbes Flyers” from Connecticut, “The Kangaroo Kids” from Maryland.

Competitive jump-roping has six levels, which accommodate every level of learning and mastership. Early levels use padded handles, rubbered ropes, and slower music beats. As the levels increase, simple ropes are replaced with wires instead of rubber, allowing for greater speed and precision. In group jumping routines, beaded ropes are used. The distinct “clack” of the black-and-white plastic strands allows jumpers to more easily count the beats in the cycle.

I invited my friends Kira Bruce, Franklin Pilcher, and Chelsea Phaneuf to join me in the level one “Intro to Jump Rope” class at the Vineyard Workout and Tennis Center with Susan Waldrop. Ms. Waldrop provided us with a chart outlining some of the skills practiced in level one jump-roping.

Before we could start, we had to find the right ropes. A correctly sized rope reaches roughly to the underarm when stood on equally. Once we had found our ropes, we practiced simple stretches, along with a minimum of 100 warm-up jumps. Then, we practiced a number of beginner moves, including the “double bounce,” (jumping twice while the rope circles you.) While I grew frustrated by my lack of coordination and heavy breathing, I realized how little Ms. Waldrop seemed to have to strain. I was ready for an orthopedic bed and some Gatorade at this point, but we weren’t done yet.

Kira, Franklin, Chelsea, and I joined together hesitantly for group jumping. Ms. Waldrop and Kira’s mother, Lizzy Bruce, swung the large beaded team rope for us. With the larger rope, we were all able to jump in and out of the swinging rhythm. After we had all successfully made it through the double teamed group jump, we realized how much fun it was to remind ourselves of an activity we had almost forgotten.

Thanks to Ms. Waldrop’s enthusiasm for the sport of jump rope, “The Island Whirlwinds” jump rope team is definitely something I would recommend to any jumper young or old.

Sessions run twice a week on Tuesdays and Fridays from 4–5 pm. For more information, call Susan Waldrop at 973-879-9813, stop in to the Workout and Vineyard Tennis Center, or see their website at