DC group keeps community healthy with ‘a little bit of space and a rope’

This is part of WTOP’s continuing coverage of people making a difference from our community authored by Stephanie Gaines-Bryant. Read more of that coverage.

New Year’s resolutions to get fit can easily be broken. One of the reasons could be that people choose the wrong fitness plan — one that makes them feel like exercise is something they “must” do instead of something they enjoy doing.

A D.C. area group works out in a way that seems to make cardio feel less cumbersome.

Joy Jones, Founder of DC Retro Jumpers told WTOP that, for many African American women, jumping rope doesn’t feel like exercise.

“It’s something fun to do and, in many cases, it’s reliving a childhood pastime,” she said, adding that the health benefits of jumping rope are both mental and physical.

The DC Retro Jumpers at a practice. (Courtesy DC Retro Jumpers)

“Once you start jumping, the endorphins take over. You’re having fun,” Jones said.

She called jump rope an excellent cardio workout because it raises your heart rate and is a full-body exercise. The portability of jumping is also plus — Jones said people can jump rope just about anywhere, at home or work, and it doesn’t require expensive equipment.

“A little bit of space and a rope and you’re good to go,” she said.

Since 2004, Jones and DC Retro Jumpers Director Robbin Ebb have taught double Dutch jump rope to people of all ages through demonstrations and lessons throughout the community. They have partnered with after school programs, churches and community centers over the years to help people “Jump for Joy,” according to Jones.

DC Retro Jumpers are an exhibition team of adult jump ropers in the region. (Courtesy D.C. Retro Jumpers)

Both Jones and Ebb are D.C. natives who met as youths in an acrobatics troop and who have been jumping rope since childhood. And their impact has been broad.

While in Russia as a cultural ambassador in 2018, Ebb, who Jones described as a master teacher, even taught a man with no arms and one prosthetic leg how to jump. She said the man was so inspirational that people in the room were crying and cheering.

Ebb described the experience as amazing and noted the key to her teaching success: keeping it simple by using the Bunny Hop Technique.

Through their jumping events, Jones said, “I feel like I’m pushing joy.”

She said she loves giving people a feeling of empowerment while Ebb loves seeing generations of families walk away feeling like they have something in common.

People interested in learning more about DC Retro Jumpers events can visit the group’s website.

Stephanie Gaines-Bryant

Stephanie Gaines-Bryant is an Anchor and Reporter for WTOP. Over the past 20 years, Stephanie has worked in several markets, including Baltimore, Washington, Houston and Charleston, holding positions ranging from newscaster to morning show co-host.

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