Jump for More Than Joy

Punk Rope creator Tim Haft keeps his students on their toes with varied exercises


If you haven’t jumped rope since childhood, don’t worry about not having perfect technique. It’s still good exercise even if you’re tripping just as much as you’re hopping.

Get ready to leap back in time with Punk Rope, a fitness class that feels like recess with its blend of jump roping, relay races, freeze tag and other elementary schoolyard staples — all set to a rocking soundtrack.

“The inspiration was really to make it an enjoyable hour so you don’t know how hard you’re working,” says Tim Haft, the movement’s self-described “Chief Punk,” who launched the concept in New York in 2004. Since then, the personal trainer has traveled the country promoting his method.

One of his most recent stops was the Washington D.C. Jewish Community Center, where he partnered up with Shana Brady, Punk Rope’s director of training, to inspire local folks to hop to it. We picked up some pointers.

Jump Start: Warming up is easy to do with a rope in your hands. After some stretching, Haft starts each class with a solid 2½ minutes of jumping, which is guaranteed to get your heart rate up instantly.

Class Trip: It’s more about play than perfection. “Now if you get tangled up … so what? Who cares?” Haft shouts to his students, many of who haven’t jumped rope in quite a while.

End of Your Rope: Participants get to put the rope down every other song, because Haft sneaks in other exercises. During one song, he has participants bound across the floor toward a partner, meeting in the middle with a roar. A Spider-Man themed relay race — runners have to start on all fours in a Spidey-like position — leaves everyone out of breath and smiling. Danny Rubin, 28, who tried out the community center’s demo class, says he often jumps rope for cardio, but this format taught him a few new tricks. “I can mix other things in, make myself work a little harder,” he says.

Tricked Out: To break up the monotony of jumping, Haft cues a few different kinds of moves, including arm crosses, double hops and directional changes (forward, back and side-to-side). He also switches up the timing on jumps, and one exercise even challenges two people to jump in the same rope. Haft encourages students to get in touch with their inner rock star and get flashy. In a signature move, he ends a song on one knee, leaning back, circling the rope to the side like a lasso.

Tuned In: Half the reason to take Punk Rope is the music, which Haft insists on blasting. The recent class at the Jewish community center, which had a superhero theme, included punked-up versions of the “Batman,” “Spider-Man,” “Speed Racer” and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” themes.

Beth Marlowe is a senior editor at Washington Post Express. She has written for The Washington Post, the Associated Press, Bloomberg Television and other publications.
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