July 20, 2009

Jumping rope the hottest way to fitness

Jumping rope is not only a super form of exercise, it has become a competitive U.S. national sport, a U.S. freestyle jump roper says.

Liz Butterfield, the best female single-rope freestyle jump roper in America, says since the formation of USA Jump Rope in 1995, the sport has been on the rise, both as a competitive activity and as a way to increase strength, balance and cardiorespiratory endurance.

Butterfield, a student at Ithaca College, Ithaca, N.Y., went before judges and a national audience in Galveston, Texas, to win her title. Butterfield did 75 seconds of dance steps and gymnastic moves synchronized to the rhythm of her spinning rope.

She was among 995 jumper ropers from across the country competing in 12 events that included Pairs Single Rope Freestyle -- two people, each with their own ropes.

There are tons of different styles of freestyle jumping, Butterfield says in a statement. Some jumpers jump fast and incorporate a lot of rope manipulation. Others focus on the creativity and choreography aspects, while others tend to integrate more strength and gymnastic elements such as handstands and somersaults that will wow the crowd.

The best thing about freestyle is that each jumper has his or her own style and brings new things to the competition, Butterfield says.