Saturday, 16 May 2009


Ever wondered why boxers are as fit as butchers dogs? It's all down to their training, alot of which involves skipping.

A guy on my Personal Training course years ago was a featherweight boxer and was fitter than the rest of us by a mile. One day we did the 'bleep' test and he left us all in a heap at the side of the room as he carried on running back and forth as if it was a walk in the park. And he had not an ounce of fat on him.

My daughter, Lauren aged seven, came home the other day from school and announced she needed to learn to skip. All the other girls in her class can do it apparently, and she can't. She's a real tom boy and has never shown even the vaguest interest in skipping to date (I know but it is still viewed as 'girly' in the playground).

I grabbed a couple of ropes, shortened one, and we had a mess about with them in the garden. I use skipping as a warm up with clients, and boy does it get them warm. Within minutes, and it's such fun too. It reminds me of carefree days when I was little and that's always a good thing when as adults they don't happen that often.

Lauren's still practising little and often and can, in the main, do it now.

So what is it about a simple rope and jumping up and down repetitively that is so good for us?

Well, for starters it engages both your upper and lower body and also the brain which foxes alot of adults. It requires concentration and coordination big time to get your feet over the rope and not tangled up in it!

Having cracked the technique, alot of which comes down to timing, there are lots if different types of skips which should be manageable.

Skipping should be fluid, not jerky. Aim to hold your tummy in tight as you land and keep the knees soft so there is no jarring of joints going on. Short grass is a good outdoor surface as is the soft tarmac in children's playgrounds (just make sure you can do it before making a fool of yourself in front of a group of kids!) and indoors a sprung floor is great.

For beginners try just 10 skips, have a rest and do another 10. You will feel just that. You can then build up from there. You can do static skipping, running skipping (if you have the space), skipping on one leg at a time, skipping continuously on two legs, fast - this is what boxers do. There are many many options, just take yourself back to being a child and it'll all come flooding back!

Why bother - well there lots of benefits :

It's fun!
It'll make you smile!
It's portable, you can do it anywhere and can always use an imaginary rope; works just as well.
It's time efficient - do a couple of minutes and you'll feel it. Do this lots of times a week and you'll get great results.
It helps develop co ordination.
It works your heart and lungs hard - you will notice this very quickly as you're gasping for breath.
It helps tone muscles.
It helps strengthen joints.

I get clients to do 100 skips and then a minute of boxing using pads, and then repeat. A couple of minutes of this and they're well ready to work out.

I'm just going to do some now, what could be better to wake me up on a Sunday morning?

Today's Tip : Finding exercise that you enjoy goes a long way to helping you stick to it.

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