Tag Archives: jump rope

What’s All the Hoopla?

In November 2017 I wrote about trying to work more exercise into my routine. At the time, I was enamored with the jump rope, which was fine and fun, until I realized I had to stop drinking anything after 2 pm, and I don’t mean just alcohol. If I didn’t, my after work jumping was, well, let’s just say maybe Muhammad Ali floated like a butterfly, but I come down more like a wildebeest pounding the ground as if a cheetah wants me for lunch. All that gravity is a little too much on my system, if you know what I mean. And I am not wearing Depends unless I’m traveling cross-country to punch out a bitch who’s getting it on with my man. Neither scenario — without or with Depends — has any dignity, but the second version makes a better story and comes with three square meals a day, and we all know that’s what really counts.

When I bought the jump rope, I also got a hula hoop at a toy store. I had done a little research online, but you know how fitness crazes are — people claiming to be an authority on hula hooping insist you must have fancy, expensive equipment. First of all, how do you even fact check that? Is there an official American Association of Hula Hoop Instructors? And what if there were? What self-respecting person would even believe that? Kids, don’t believe everything on the internet.

I tried my hula hoop a few times and then brought it to a friend’s house. I kept forgetting about it, until I finally remembered after about a year. By this time I had stopped jumping and was pretending to try other types of exercise, which was mostly just walking 4 to 5 miles a day. That sounds good on paper, but I walk leisurely and I can still lose my breath walking up two flights of stairs. The hard, cold, brutal fact is that as you get older, you have to work harder for less results. And doing nothing gets you in one of those Wal-Mart scooters and seeing 6 specialists for things called “comorbidities” in about 6 months. Yes, it’s as bad as it sounds.

I got the hoop back and decided to give the internet a chance to show me how to use it — maybe that’s why I was having trouble getting the thing to glide around my waist like it did when I was 8 years old.  It was my technique that was lacking. I watched one video that talked about making sure you move either forward and back or side to side, and not an actual hula movement. So confusing. Still, though a part of me thought, I used to do this effortlessly as a kid. How hard can it be? Turns out as hard as anything you haven’t done in 45 years in a completely different body.  Also, muscle memory could very well be a lie.

Undaunted, I started on Monday after work, spun the hoop, and started rocking. Within minutes, I was out of breath, mostly from having to bend over and pick up the hoop from the floor every 2 seconds. After about 5 minutes, I put it away and decided to try again tomorrow. The next night I did try it again. Yay me! #lowbar. This time I was able to keep it up for about 5 seconds. I was buoyed by my success, only to immediately go back to my 2 seconds and retrieving the hoop from the floor. The third day I noticed my stomach muscles were sore — that’s got to be a good thing, right? Maybe I didnb’t do enough research. I decided to find a video of someone who looked like they were actually hula hooping. No trick camera angles. Intellectually I understood I needed to get a back-and-forth rhythm going, but I wasn’t understanding it in my body. The woman talked about pushing out with your belly. I really pushed my belly out and scrunched up my face like I was in pain, which was some clever foreshadowing on my part. I could keep the hoop up for 7 seven seconds, but then it would mysteriously slow down and drop unceremoniously to the floor. I wanted to quit, but that seemed lame. It’s a kid’s toy for crying out loud. I gave it one more whirl, really pushing my stomach out. Suddenly, my muscle yelled, and then I yelled, and it all came crashing down.

Yes, I pulled a muscle in my belly hula hooping, as if I haven’t suffered enough indignities of being middle-aged. An unhelpful friend asked, “How could that happen? My 5-year-old niece can do it on her arms and her legs. It’s so easy!” Little bitch.

So back to the internet, and apparently size does matter. The smaller the hoop the harder it is for an adult to make it go—seemed like there was enough physics to make it sound true for a layperson, so I sucked it up, measured, and ordered a grown-ass hoola hoop. I’m going with this: I’m an adult and am entitled to custom hoola hoops, fine red wine, and ice cream any damn time I feel like it. Take that, little hoop bitches!

If I can’t make the bigger hoop work, I figure there must be reciprocity. Small hoops are harder for adults, ergo. big hoops harder for kids? I could give it to a kid and hula hoop hope.

Jump Up, Jump Up and Get Down

About 3 years ago I saw a picture of myself, and I could no longer deny that the extra pounds I kept telling myself were only a few had set up permanent residence in my midsection and were expanding faster than a development of McMansions on sold-off farm land. I lost the weight the only way I knew how — slowly and changing one habit at a time. I was able to maintain my weight for quite a while, with the understanding that the McMansions would encroach eventually, even if I kept my eating and exercise routine the same. Thanks a lot, perimenopause; if ever get my hands on you, you are going to pay. Oh, wait, I already am paying. Grrrrr.

Of course, I wasn’t quite able to keep everything the same. It started with a month-long  IT project at work a year and a half ago, working every day and tethered to a small room. I added 5 pounds during that time and was only able to get rid of a few. Then this spring and summer was Kid Launchapoolza with graduation cake and parties and traveling to colleges to pick the One, then more traveling to the One for orientation, and then the trip to see the total eclipse in South Carolina (which was totally amazing.)

As you can imagine there was a lot of eating out and not a lot exercising going on. Then at the end of September I moved. So even if I hadn’t run off my will power like a crabby old man scaring kids out of his yard with a rake, it didn’t have a chance with the pots-are-packed-I’m-too-tired-to-cook-oooh-look-there’s-a-takeout-menu.

So here we are. More farm land has been sold and the McMansions are rising again, so it’s back to the grind.

Step 1) Look the McMansion straight in the window and don’t pretend it’s a tiny house.

Step 2) Lock down the food situation and get back on track. Of course, I decided to do that during the most stressful week at work before a big function. All I could think of was that scene from “Airplane!”: “Looks looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue!” Indeed. I compromised and held the line on my eating, but not the wine. Baby steps. But that event is done, so now staying on track seems like a breeze. The alcohol is under a separate contract.

Step 3) More exercise. In the spring, I confidently told people that when the kid goes off to college, I’m most definitely going to add another day at the gym, another yoga class, I’ll have so much time!

Turns out the problem isn’t so much having time, as it is getting off your McMassion and actually doing it.

In the hunt for the yoga class, I realized I haven’t matured at all since I last wrote about how I’m like Jerry Seinfeld and his girlfriends. So much for my efforts to be a more open-minded, tolerant person. Which kind of negates all that yoga represents, so my apologies to the tradition and it’s more pure-hearted practitioners. I like my one Iyengar class, and I can’t seem to replicate it. There are 5 yoga studios in close proximity to my house, 2 within walking distance, and I can’t find a class to go to. It’s either too early, too late, too easy, too fast, too hot, too many people, too serious, too flippant, too…too.

The better bet is more exercise, and that’s only because I had a small breakthrough earlier this summer when a friend and I pulled out a jump rope and we started jumping. As in, tie one end to a pole and one person swings it while the other jumps. It was perfectly embarrassing. My brain still remembered being a 7-year-old jumping effortlessly and lightly. However, my 52-year-old body was like, “Um, say, what, now?” I was out of breath almost immediately. And after a number of false starts and trying to remember how the heck to do it, I had to lay down in the grass to recover.

It was the best day ever.

I had the little kid response: I’m going to get a jump rope! I’m going to jump every day! I’m going to be in great shape! And then I had the harried middle-aged response: I forgot about it.

That is until I saw a sign in my gym outlining the rules for jumping rope — Stay out of  doorways! Be mindful of those around you! Little kid got excited all over again–jump ropes! The adult in me hesitated. It was one thing to jump outside with a friend, and another to do it in a gym where people are increasing their cardio something or other with grim precision. The universe saw I could use a nudge, and a few days later I was on the train. It was packed and there was one open seat. The reason? The woman standing in front of it was resting a framed picture on it, and the women sitting next to the seat had laid her hoola hoop across it.

I made a beeline for it.

I first nicely asked Picture Woman to move her stuff. She did and also made a sour face and shrugged at Hoola Hoop Woman; as if to say, it’s her fault not mine. So I nicely asked her to move her hoola hoop, which she nicely did. I shot Picture Woman a look –the adult version of sticking my tongue out, and told Hoola Hoop Woman she could rest it on me. It’s not like it was going to fit in her lap. I never chat with people on the train, but how can you not chat with Hoola Hoop Woman? We talked about how fun hoola hoops are (she uses her for exercise), and the next thing I knew, I was telling her about the summer jump roping. She exclaimed it was great exercise and her friend had lost a lot of weight doing it. When she got off the train, hoola hoop in hand, she patted me on the shoulder and said, “You can do it!”

Technically, I haven’t added any exercise, just swapped stationary bike to jump rope. But I’ve started jumping at the gym and I am totally getting a hoola hoop. I just have to get off my McMassion and do it!