By Danielle Sabino
It’s definitely time to get back into some sort of exercise regimen, and so I began the hunt for some useful home workout equipment. I’m a 33 year old teacher, wife, and mom living right outside of NYC, and I had my second baby two and a half months ago. At this point in my life, I prefer working out at home, since it’s most convenient. No need for a babysitter or to travel anywhere, and I can kick into gear any time my kids permit it. Yes, they run the show here. I certainly do not.
My goal was to find something that I could use for either short or long increments of time, since I can’t always fit in a long workout. Due to the fact that I played soccer for ten years and had to recover from a knee operation when I was 16, I also needed something that wouldn’t have too high an impact on my knees. I’ve always loved jumping rope as a cardio activity. I came across the Fresh Fire smart jump rope and decided to give it a try, and I’m extremely happy that I did.
I’d love to paint the picture of me looking all cute and put together as I jump around to burn calories, but let me be honest. Imagine my 3 year old daughter running around the yard and my infant looking up at me from his stroller with his chubby cheeks and little ET head following my movements. I usually have some baby drool on my shirt and a messy bun atop my head, but hey, I’m in the baby trenches right now. I do not want to be out of shape, so the very best thing about this Fresh Fire Smart Jump Rope is that I can pick it up and use it right away. I can even be attentive to my kids because I can easily put it down instantly if my toddler decides to get into mischief.
This smart jump rope has two options for assembly. It gives the option of a traditional jump rope, meaning an actual rubber rope with an adjustable length. The second, more innovative option, is two short ropes with a ball on the end of which I call the phantom rope. My main reason for loving the phantom rope is that I’ll never need to untangle it. Gone are the days when I need to uncoil and untwist the long rope. It’s always ready to pick up and use immediately, and as a mom of two, every single second counts.
Despite being immersed in a life full of daily technological devices, I’m quite the spaz when it comes to anything techy. However, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the very straightforward “start up guide” helped me pair the jump rope’s app to my phone on my very first try. Then, on subsequent tries, if I just turn on my Bluetooth and press the “refresh” button in the upper corner of the app, it pairs without any fuss at all. This is amazing. Every other Bluetooth device I attempt to use is such a hassle.
Usability is extremely simple and straightforward. I just press and hold to turn on, and there is a tiny screen on one of the jump rope handles. I really prefer to look at the app on my phone screen, but the handle does also have a tiny counter on it. It’s really just necessary to turn it on to sync the bluetooth on your phone so the jump rope registers each jump count. My husband loves to tease that I’m beyond uncoordinated, despite my ten years as an athlete, so I was a tiny bit skeptical of these disconnected jump rope handles. Before I tried it, I imagined that I’d just be flailing around. However, each has a small ball dangling on a short rubber rope. The ball weighs just enough so that it gives you the momentum and feel of an actual rope swinging, and I was surprised to realize that my body will intuitively kept my arms swinging together. Presto! No extra coordination or athleticism required to succeed in this workout.
I’ve used this rope inside and outside, and both have their benefits. The phantom rope is also great because I realized I can jump on the grass. The actual rope would probably slow down in the grass, but the phantom rope doesn’t have that problem. I like this because I do have occasional knee pain, and so the grass provides a cushion to avoid more knee pain. I’m also a big fan of the fact that I can just do it right in my living room, especially with winter arriving here in New York. Obviously on rainy or cold days, the phantom rope just works inside without me worrying about knocking over objects inside my house. I nearly bonked my toddler on the head, but that was her fault for coming too close. A parenting article would call that natural consequences. Step away, kid, step away.
Now onto the modes. These give you a variety of ways to use the jump rope, and it comes down to personal preference and what you’re in the mood for on a given day. The app has a lovely lady voice narrating, and she tells you when it’s time to begin jumping, gives you progress updates, and encourages you to keep going.
Above is the home screen, and it shows my total for the day. It tells me the amount of jumps per minute, the total amount of time I’ve used the jump rope, and the calories burned. Yes, I’m aware that this picture does not reflect a very impressive number currently, thank you very much.
The first mode is “Free Skip mode,” which is my least favorite because it’s unstructured. I personally like a goal or an end in sight because it’s very hard for me to have a concept of time in my head. It’s exactly what it sounds like-- a stopwatch of sorts from when you begin jumping rope.
Skips Count Down mode is nice. You choose a number in the increments of 100 to reach, and once you reach your goal, the handle buzzes and beeps, which gives me a nice little “yay I did it” type of feeling.
Time Count Down mode is also fun. This one, for me, is the beauty of this gadget. If you keep it in a convenient spot, you can pick it up for a minute here and there. For example, earlier I had my infant doing some tummy time, my toddler coloring, and I was just jumping rope around my living room for a minute. It got my heart rate up, and took no preparation time at all. I also did this in a much more intentional way the other day by doing an interval workout. I did a minute of the Smart Jump Rope as cardio to raise my heart rate, and then a minute of crunches, then repeat the jump rope and then do a minute of arms or some other muscle group. It’s great for that because I personally cannot jump for very long increments just yet. So far I’ve been able to slowly climb to three minutes at a time, which I’m proud of. Jumping Rope is hard work.
Last but not least is PK mode which is a list of challenges. This one makes me feel like I’m leveling up in a video game, and I love to see the number of challenges won increase each time I check off another win. It really gives me a nice sense of achievement.
All in all this has been a worthwhile purchase. To be honest, I’ve purchased other items that I really don’t use. This is just so simple that I see it sitting there and am compelled to pick it up because I can trick myself into just doing a minute, which always turns into more.