Day 7: Train Like An Athlete

It’s Day 7- Congrats on making it through the first week of the series!

If your goal is to look and feel amazing, why not enter each training session AS IF you were at your best, an athlete in peak mental and physical conditioning vs. someone beat up from life’s time stamp needing to check off yet another have to to item for the day. Stop going through the motions just to give yourself a pat on the back that you did something. Do something meaningful! Walk into the gym or put on those jogging sneakers and just believe, pretend to if you have to at first, that you are a remarkable athlete. Train with vigor and intensity so you can get the most out of your efforts.

Let’s look at what’s holding you back- Is it your age, your fitness level, lack of energy? Don’t worry- WE WILL MAKE EVERY SECOND COUNT! My philosophy is spending quality time with you… pushing you through intense and rigorous training, focusing on nutrition and helping you bring your sexy back! YES, we are all aging, but Age and Limitations, more often than not, are self-imposed obstacles in your head, rather than in your bones and muscles. I want to help you with the concept of believing in “MIND OVER BODY!” You need to THINK LIKE AN ATHLETE! Being healthy involves more than your body, it’s your mind and psychological well-being. Think it, and then…just do it!

Silver medalist Chris Williams from Jamaica, is running as fast at age 41 as most elite athletes are running in their prime. Why do I bring this up? He is 41 years old and recently ran a 20.99 second 200 meter and a 10.37 second 100 meter! Maybe you’re not a runner, but I can tell you that those times are lightning fast for any age- what an awesome role model, right?!

So who are your role models? We should all have several to inspire and perhaps mirror certain aspects of ourselves, our lives that we wish to enhance. If you don’t have someone in mind in the fitness category of your life, now’s the time to do so. Maybe this category includes sports, nutrition, wellness…and a couple of different kinds of role models? Growing up my mom loved Julia Child who inspired her and many other women to go for it in the kitchen making incredible dishes for the family, but I sure can’t relate to her and her food choices. I definitely look elsewhere for folks that walk the talk of fueling their bodies with delicious…AND nutritious foods. I prefer to start building my plate off of key nutrient ingredients that feed the mind and body, what it needs to produce an esthetically pleasing look, even keel moods throughout the day and vibrant energy and productivity.

Today I’m going to ask you to discover your ideal vision of yourself living a healthy, fit lifestyle, and loving it! I’m here to help you get stronger than you currently know yourself, tougher than you think you are and then hopefully inspire you to finally train hard enough on all levels to where… You can GET IT BACK!\

Before you decide to change any aspect of yourself you need to first get clear what it is you want to change, prioritize and then just start with the number one item on your list to get some momentum going, right away before you lose your intentional focus. Take a little time out of your busy day today and come up with some key role models (JUST THREE) to model their beliefs and behaviors. Do some research about them- what they do, their success/failures, why they inspire you and what you can learn/incorporate from their training strategies and life philosophies that you can inject into YOUR life. Think about what sports, activities, hobbies you’re interested in. Find amazing athletes, chefs, a fitness mentor in these important areas to you and learn about them and what they do that makes them so incredible.

*BONUS: Master the Jump Rope & Yourself!

Break Through Your Mental Barriers

Why would you want to jump rope, especially when it’s so much easier to just hop on a treadmill after work? First of all, it’s such a convenient and versatile exercise, one that you can take almost anywhere. It’s great for those who like to dance and listen to music, for those who like to exercise outdoors, for travelers, for those with kids who can’t leave the house, or when bad weather keeps you indoors. More importantly, jumping rope offers so many amazing physical and psychological benefits, things that you just can’t get as easily from using traditional cardio machines. And another great thing? Absolutely anyone can learn how to do it!

Regardless of your current fitness, you can develop an unbelievable level of coordination and confidence jumping rope. That is, if you’re focused and determined to do the work. People tell me all the time how blessed with coordination I must be when they see the tricks I can do… Me! Mr. Big and Clumsy! Understand that coordination is not something you’re either born with or not. It’s a skill that can be learned, just like anything else. It will take a little bit of time, especially if you’re brand-new to this, but with a little work and determination on your part, you will seriously be amazed at what you can accomplish.

Ok, let’s start with the basics…

Important: If you have joint problems or are severely overweight, you may want to skip the roping for now. Also, please be smart and stop jumping if at any time you experience chest pains, muscle tightness, or joint discomfort.

Before you start, it’s important to get the right rope size. Holding a handle in each hand, step on the center of your rope with two feet and pull each side of the rope up, making sure that the handles reach your armpits. If they do not reach your armpits, then the rope is too short. If the handles reach higher than your armpits, then you need to shorten your rope by tying a knot in each side, below the handle. If it’s your own rope, you can cut the length instead. As you get more skillful during your practice, you may want to shorten your rope.

Now for the instructions. Remember: 10 minutes of jump rope can give you the same benefits as 30 minutes of jogging!

Single Bounce

Grip the handles between your thumb and index finger, and wrap the rest of your fingers around the handle loosely. Keep your back straight, head up (but don’t over exaggerate), shoulders relaxed, and elbows close to your body. Ensure that the insides of your wrists are pointing up toward the ceiling. Otherwise a “slapping” motion can occur, with your rope hitting the ground too far out in front of your feet, which means a lot more misses.

Keeping your feet together, jump just high enough to barely get over the rope. The most common mistake people make at first is to jump too high; about an inch off the ground is all you need. Use your wrists, not your arms, to turn the rope in a smooth arc over your head. If you speed your wrists up, your feet will follow the speed. Try to get 5 jumps in a row, then 10, and keep moving up to a higher number until you’ve got the Single Bounce move down.

TIPS: Double bouncing (a second vibration jump) is common at first. To stop this, turn your wrists faster and focus on keeping your feet low to the ground, soft and quiet. You can also practice jumping without the rope to get rid of the extra bounce. Don’t look down when jumping, as it throws you off balance and can lead to injury. It also makes it harder to breathe. Keep your head and eyes up, and trust the consistent rhythm of the rope. Keep your elbows in and don’t use your arms and shoulders too much. Again, mainly use your wrists to turn the rope.

Alternating Feet

Turn the rope over your head and, as it comes down, hop over it with your right foot. Repeat the movement, but now hop over the rope with your left foot. Keep the rope moving smoothly and make sure your arm position stays even. Once you get the movement down using a 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4 count, then try to turn your wrists even more smoothly and slightly faster. Your legs will follow with even smaller steps and, before you know it, you’ve got it down. Focus on keeping your knees up high in front of you instead of in a bike-pedaling motion. Jump low to the ground (again, your goal is about an inch). It is common with beginners to kick your heels back instead of straight up and down. Spring straight up on the balls of your feet and low to the ground, minimizing the impact. Count the right foot, aiming for 5 in a row, then move to 10, 25, 50, and so on until you can do them easily.

TIPS: First practice without the rope so you get comfortable with this foot motion. Then try jumping in front of a mirror, observing from a side view.

Some common mistakes are:

  • Arms are too straight or in a locked position. Remember to keep a relaxed bend in your arms. Also keep them in close to your sides, wrists up, and make smooth, circular motions.
  • Moving too much. Try to stay in one place. Mentally, or with a piece of tape, mark a spot on the floor, and concentrate on landing on that point.
  • Rope Length. Check the length of your rope and adjust it, making it longer or shorter if needed.

If you’re just learning to jump rope, try taking 10 minutes before and after your regular resistance workout to practice your skills, which will make a big difference in how quickly you progress. I personally hate to suck at things at first, as it’s sometimes embarrassing and very frustrating. But if you can get past that mental roadblock of just getting started and knowing that in a short time you are going to master this simple skill, you will reap tremendous rewards! With these instructions, you will have a serious advantage over someone trying figure it all out on his or her own. Now all you have to do is practice, practice, practice!

IF You Feel Ready… Take Your Skills To The Next Level!!

If you know me personally, you probably know that I have a pretty big passion for this sport. AND, I have a little bit of skill to boot, if I do say so myself.  I am going to hopefully inspire those of you who have a hidden athlete inside, just burning to come out. If you already have the basic jump rope skills down (See April 21 blog), then you are ready to take your jump rope skills to the next level. Following are a couple of key lessons from my GET IT BACK system to get you started in the right direction. If you think you’ve got what it takes, I challenge you to give these a shot.

1. Criss-Cross

First practice this move with the rope, but without jumping. LOW and SLOW is the name of the game here. Swing the rope over your head. As it’s coming down over your body, cross your arms tightly, giving your chest a little squeeze. Your arms should be crossed nice and low, down by your hips, as if you were reaching for your back pockets. Concentrate on getting the correct form with your cross.

When you feel comfortable with the cross motion, perform the same move, but add in your jump. Remember to jump with both feet together. When your arms are crossed, you will feel a bit constricted. This is where you have to really fire up those wrists to get the rope turning. Once the rope has gotten under your feet and back up over your head, then open your arms to jump over the rope again and complete the skill. Repeat. Make sure you keep your elbows and arms in, because if they come out wide, the rope will shorten and you’ll miss. It’s a movement of a big cross with your arms, then a small open. Once you’ve got it down, practice alternating your right and left arm on top.

TIP: Bad form is common, so practice in front of a mirror. Are your elbows meeting? Are your hands reaching close to your back pockets? Are you holding your cross long enough to jump the rope and swing it back over your head? Are you jumping on both feet? If you said “yes” to all these, you’re mastering your crosses. For more advanced levels, try performing a cross turning the rope backwards, or a cross inside a double under.

2. Double Under

Double unders are two complete revolutions of the rope in a single jump. Without a rope, first practice exploding up off the ground (with your calves and ankles) higher than single jumps, keeping your legs straight and your arms in. Then, for 2 sets of 25 reps, pretend you have the rope in your hands and are actually performing doubles, turning your wrists quickly with each jump. Keep the same pace for each rep, which helps to program your brain and muscles for what’s to come.

Now grab your rope and try for just one double. If you miss, your arms are probably drifting out, you’re tensing up and going a little too fast, or you’re turning your wrists too slow. Keep trying; it will come. When you’ve got it down, try a single jump followed by a double. Then go for 2 single jumps, double, 2 single jumps, double. Try to get 5 to 10 doubles using this strategy.

Next, see how many consecutive doubles you can do without missing. Often people will whip the first revolution under, then stall their arms for the second revolution of the rope. Really emphasize flipping your wrists back for the second turn, which will ensure you get a good second revolution. Once you can do 10 doubles in a row, then do 20, then see how many you can do in 15 seconds. When you don’t miss for 15 seconds, try for 30 seconds, then 1 minute, and so on. Keep your muscles and breathing very relaxed so that you can go longer, stacking up the number of reps. Remember, when extending past 30 seconds, it’s all mental! It’s just a mental push to overcome your desire to quit. When you can perform 20 consecutive doubles, then you’re ready to add in other moves. For the really bold few, triples require that you turn your wrists much faster and spring higher with your jumps.

TIP: This trick is all about rhythm and balance. Stay on your toes! Those who repeatedly miss are often landing on their heels, or jumping all over the floor. Try to stay in one spot. Also keep a small bend in the knee. Don’t emphasize the jump; instead, emphasize your arms and shoulders. Reaching 50+ consecutive doubles has less to do with physical condition and more to do with mental dedication. Aim for a high number, and don’t let yourself quit. The current world record is over 10,000 in a row!

We are very proud of our student’s accomplishments. But when it goes beyond their personal interests and they impact other’s lives in a positive way we are honored to be a part. Local writer Aimee Heckel wrote an article in Boulder’s Daily Camera about her personal experience using the GET IT BACK system. She then took what she learned to the Kyangwali Refugee Camp in Western Uganda where she shared her new passion and jump rope skills with the kids in the village. All of us have the opportunity to make a difference in the world. You, too, can GET IT BACK…and then GIVE something back! Sometimes getting your mind and body in the best possible shape leads to making the world a better place. Aimee Heckle and her mom run a non-profit organization that goes every year to Uganda and hands out aid to those in need. If you want to be a part of a great cause and a really cool organization, Think Humanity is located in Boulder, Colorado. Their mission statement is to create a positive change for refugees in Africa. Their main projects are:

  • Malaria prevention and treatment
  • A daycare/orphanage for children younger than age 5
  • A self-sustaining livestock project to feed residents and help provide an income
  • A hostel to house and feed girls so they can go to school.
  • Leadership training and empowering of the refugee leaders of the organization; all of their projects are determined and driven by the refugee administrators.