We often judge activities based on how much they change us physically, but we never think about the mental aspect. Moving our bodies every day changes our character, which is something many of us fail to reflect on.
I used to be a runner. Treadmill or no treadmill, rain or snow, I ran every morning from 5:30 to 6:30 a.m. Here's the thing, though—I hated every minute of it.
From the moment I tied my laces up until my last mile, even thinking about running scared me. So, why did I do it? As a kid, I was a little overweight. I was the kid that deliberately got "sick" for sports day. So during college, every time I ran, I had a million voices in my head. At times it was the voice of my soccer coach calling me a "tractor"; other times it was my classmates, commenting on my "man boobs" from the sideline as I struggled to finish the race.
So to me, running during college was a way to prove something. It was very unhealthy. For starters, I was in college, still focusing on things that had happened in high school. I had to let go. I had to grow. That's when I discovered the magic of jumping rope.
It has been a year and a half, and not only has jumping rope altered my physique, but it has helped me develop my character by teaching me lessons about life and fitness.
Here are some of them:
If you're just starting out, there's some required trial and error for getting the right form. That trial and error requires patience and perseverance. There's no place for ego. I used to run despite hating it because I felt as if I had to prove something to someone—as if I was still competing with my friends in high school.
Because I failed multiple times before finally getting the right form, jumping rope taught me that in reality, I was competing with myself. I did not have to get better than anyone but myself, and that change in mindset helped me optimize everything. Failure helped me touch base with reality and develop patience; it killed all that toxic ego that was bottled up inside. This made consistency easier.
As my form started getting better, there were times where ego popped up again. In the middle of my workout, I started thinking about how cool I looked while jumping rope. That's when the rope would get stuck between my legs. Reality would hit me, forcing me to focus on the now.
Thus, jumping rope trained me to stay focused, training my mind to not wander and instead be in the now, in the flow state where the mind and the body seem connected and everything is coordinated. There are also studies that prove that jump rope training improves coordination, balance, and focus.
That feeling of flow is something to work for. This significantly changed the quality of my work as I spent more time in doing deep work.
3. Reflecting on failures
When we hit bottom, the obvious advice people give us is to try again. And although that's good, there's something essential that we miss: reflecting on failures. What went wrong? Was it something external and out of your control, or was it something internal that you can change?
Jumping rope is all about having the right form. Bend your knees, draw your elbows in, don't jump any higher than an inch. So every time I fail, I reflect on what happened. Was it form or lack of focus? I've started applying this to every other area of my life, and it has optimized everything I do.
4. Less is more.
In a world that is so driven by doing, we often lose sight of what is important. We all want more degrees, more stuff, more tasks accomplished. This mindset naturally inhibits the quality of everything we do. We aspire to do so many things that we end up doing nothing.
Think about how that applies to fitness. Now more than ever, we have so many ways to get fit, yet health-related diseases are at a high. As I got more acquainted with jumping rope, I started doing high-intensity interval training for 30 minutes every day. That's it. No running or any other form of cardio.
This helped me gain clarity on what is really required, helping me accomplish keystone habits like practicing intermittent fasting, eating the right foods, hitting my macro numbers, and giving my HIIT workouts my all.
5. Movement is essential.
We look at working out as an extra reward. Something that most often isn't a part of our daily chores. This leads to inconsistency as we only work out when we "have time."
But, what if moving your body was essential? What if it was a requirement to living a healthy life? After every HIIT session, I felt great from the inside out—as if my body was thanking me. This helped me learn an important lesson about our bodies: They are made to move. You can move them however you like, but movement is essential.
Since it only took 30 minutes from my day, I started doing it consistently, and, if we know anything about consistency, it's that it produces results. Our bodies need movement and our minds stillness, it's the opposite that hurts.
Thus, jumping rope helped me fall in love with fitness. Working out wasn't something I had to do anymore; it was something I wanted to do.
This is not a plea for you to go start jumping rope. Instead, I ask you to explore the different ways you can help your body and mind. Find out what works for you and what doesn't, and adjust accordingly.