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Skipping for Family Fun

By: Mike Kiely BA (hons) - Updated: 1 Jan 2013 | comments*Discuss
Family Fun Skipping French Skipping

How is it that skipping transcended its traditional role in the playground and found itself at the beginning of the 21st century to be one of the most popular disciplines to be found in the health industry handbook? Simple really – it enhances cardiovascular fitness, improves stamina, and works major muscle groups in both the upper and lower body. Oh yes, it’s relatively cheap to get started, and as far as degrees of difficulty go, it is one of the easiest skills to master.

Mind you, tell that to a novice standing with the rope resting behind their ankles and building themselves up to swing that line over their head for the first time. It can be daunting, especially after initial attempts end in a tangle of arms, legs and rope, and sometimes even just a heap of humanity on the floor. All this may seem ridiculous to those who have mastered the technique, but skipping is a little like swimming and driving - until the penny drops and you mentally relax, it can seem like the most difficult thing in the world.

Mum or Dad Making a Fool of Themselves

You can engage the services of a personal trainer, or even seek out a beginners’ class in the gym. But why should parents shell out for the services of a professional when they have their own little expert sitting across the table from them at dinner every night? One or more junior members of the family will be more than delighted to teach you the basics, if not for an increase in pocket money, then purely for the delightful sight of mum or dad making a real fool of themselves. If they are really wicked, they may introduce you to more complex group routines such as French skipping.

Whoever takes the lead in showing you the ropes - sorry, rope - the two most important watchwords are concentration and perseverance. No, you are not going to get it right immediately. And even when you begin ascending the learning curve, you won’t be recording impressive numbers of revolutions a minute. Just take things slowly and develop your ability at a steady pace.

Wrists Nice and Loose

As an initial target, aim for a total of 50 reps, 25 leading with the right leg, 25 with the left in order to work both sides of the lower body. Hold the handles firmly in your hands put keep your wrists nice and loose so that they are simply guiding the rope on its path around your body rather than attempting to pull it. Beginners are always tempted to look at their feet, but it is better to resist the temptation to look down. Rather, keep your posture nice and upright, eyes looking straight ahead. Yes, there will be times when your feet get caught up in the rope, but remember that word – perseverance.

One of the great advantages of skipping is that you only need your regular workout clothing, together with training shoes that will provide good grip and support and a polyurethane rope with soft, contoured grips. (Ensure that the rope is adjustable to suit individuals of different heights.) Now all you require is a solid flat surface, such as patio or the lawn, and the whole family can get into the swing of it. It won’t be long before this valuable toning routine seems like child’s play.

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