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I've been doing a lot of exercise recently, whether it be off my own back or as a client for a friend's personal trainer course. One of the things he's had me doing as part of a warm up is skipping, and although at first it was frustrating, it's something that you can pick up and get used to quite quickly. Choosing the right skipping rope isn't something I had considered as being important, but having used a few different ones now, I've realised that it does indeed make a difference.
Quite a few sports related skipping ropes these days are all plastic, the 'rope' as well as the handles. Traditionally, though, expect one like this Mookie skipping rope, which has think wooden handles and a real rope. As a man, I found the handles quite small to grip, although they are rather smooth due to the varnished finish. I was worried that as I started to sweat it would get harder to hold on to them, but this wasn't the case at all. The attachment of the handle to the rope is quite flexible and there's plenty of motion, with the connection also allowing the rope to swing smoothly as you skip, preventing any restriction to make you have to swing harder to get the right pace.
The quality of the rope, initially at least, is also good, and I'm sure I'm not alone in thinking it looks a bit like the cord for an iron, with its predominantly white colour with a few small coloured marks along its length. I found the rope easy to unwind and to keep straight, something this has as an advantage over most cheap plastic skipping ropes, which tangle up and are a nightmare to get straight.
When skipping, there's no real worry, and I spent quite a few occasions really liking how this felt. If anything, I'd have to say that I'd have preferred to have bigger handles, although the rope was plenty long enough for my purposes. You can get different variations in skipping rope length, and this was just about right for me.
The problem with this is reflected in the price. You can get hold of it for as little as £2, and once you've used it for quite a long time, then you notice a difference in the quality of the rope. I found that the handles started to warp ever so slightly, particularly if they're left outside for any period of time, and the connection between the handles and the rope started to feel a bit less secure than before. Not only this, but the rope itself soon began to fray. When I skip, the rope often hits the floor at each revolution, something which is rather common with most people, especially once you get a rhythm going and find that groove for minimal jumping. The problem is that the rope frays rather easily, and I've started to worry that it won't last much longer. I've used other ropes, particularly at the gym, which are used on a very regular basis and have been there for ages without showing any signs of wear and tear that affect the performance.
I'm not so fussed about how dirty it can get - I don't expect a white rope to stay white if it keeps getting used for skipping when it touches the ground, nor do I expect to be able to clean it very well. What I do expect though is for it to stay strong for a decent amount of time, and it has already started to give less of a smooth skipping experience. It costs £2, and that's exactly what you get - your money's worth. For the price, it does a decent job and doesn't tangle up, giving a smooth skip, but over a period of time, if you're thinking about for a long time, then it may be better spending a bit more and getting something that will last better.