By Cristin Wertman • Edited by Amanda Altman
I used to love to jump rope when I was as a kid. In high school, I loved jump roping to music with a weighted jump rope for exercise. Then in college at UC Santa Barbara, I took up boxing; the trainer would have us jump rope for 15 minutes straight to warm up. It was tough! And later on, when I found Pilates, I realized what a great complement my jump roping was to the work.
After all, jumping rope is a good source of cardio, boosting heart and brain health, not to mention calorie burn. It also helps improve motor coordination, balance and bone density, plus it’s good for your lymphatic system (hello, glowing skin).
This jump rope/Pilates interval series is a total-body workout that’s really fun and challenging. It’s designed to get you moving in every direction, work up a good sweat and make you feel great—mentally, physically and spiritually. You can do it anywhere, even outside. For your jump rope intervals, the goal is to jump the whole length of one song. If you trip on your rope, or have to stop for a second, that’s okay! To up the challenge, you can try jumping on one leg, or doing cross-country skier or high knees. The key is to keep moving.
Although we don’t typically do Pilates to music, listening to your favorite upbeat playlist throughout this workout will motivate you to keep going. Moving to the beat has even been shown to decrease levels of the stress hormone cortisol in your body, which counteracts the effects of chronic stress. I love wearing my Beats by Dr. Dre wireless headphones while doing this routine.
Now get ready to get your heart pumping and feel invigorated!
Props: jump rope; set of 1–3-pound hand weights
Breath: For the jump rope intervals, breathe naturally, inhaling through your nose and exhale through your mouth; see breath cues for the mat exercises.
• To assess if your jump rope is the right length for you, stand on the middle of the rope with one foot and pull the handles straight up, making sure the rope is taut; the handles should reach close to shoulder height.
• You can jump rope with or without footwear—whichever makes you feel most comfortable.
• While jumping, try to be as light on your feet as possible—don’t make a sound when your feet touch the ground. The secret: Engage your center.
• Think of drawing your pelvic floor together while jumping. Keep your shoulders back and your gaze forward.
• If you don’t have a jump rope or have an injury, you can just dance around and move your body in a way that feels comfortable for the cardio intervals.
• Add a mindfulness practice while jumping: Think of three things you are grateful for in your life.
Standing Bottom Lift
WHY DO IT:
• tones the butt and thighs
• sculpts and stretches the inner thighs
• strengthens the pelvic floor
HOW TO DO IT: Stand in second position (feet wide and turned out) with your hands on your hips or arms out to a T. Inhale as you plié with a straight back, and then exhale to return to standing. Do 10–20 reps.
Tip: Imagine that you’re sucking the earth up through the arches of your feet.
Standing Side-Bend with Side-Kick
WHY DO IT:
• works and stretches the side body
• tones the hips
HOW TO DO IT: Stand with your hands behind your head, one knee slightly bent and your other leg extended out to the side so your body is pitched at a slight diagonal. Inhale as you side-bend to your bent knee. Exhale as you return to standing and lift your extended leg toward the ceiling. Do 10 reps on both sides.
Tips: Think of extending your leg 6 inches longer than it is. Focus on lifting through the crown of your head and engaging your pelvic floor.
Russian Squats into Chest Expansion
WHY DO IT:
• strengthens the legs, butt and arms
• works the transverse abdominis (deepest abs), and the bones and muscles of the feet
• great for posture and balance
HOW TO DO IT: Stand with your feet parallel and slightly wider than your shoulders while holding a set of weights by your hips. Inhale as you squat deeply, and then do a bicep curl with your elbows at shoulder height. Exhale as you return to standing, lift up onto your toes and press your arms straight back. Pause to hold; slowly look right, left and then center. Inhale, and then exhale as you lower your heels. Do 5–8 reps.