‘People like to diss it’: Meet the ‘skipfluencers’ making jump rope the exercise of choice

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While jump rope and double Dutch were once consigned to the realm of childhood nostalgia, the sport of skipping is experiencing a resurgence in Victoria, in part thanks social media.

Isabelle Freeman, who is the managing director of bayside skipping school Skipz, hopped into the sport when her daughters joined their school team in 2009. It wasn’t until years later, after she started her business, that she realised there was a competitive element.

Mallory Anderson, 36, has been skipping for just over a year and posts her routines on Instagram where she’s building a following. Credit: Wayne Taylor

“The first few years we were at the bottom of the heap [at nationals], we just went there for the experience. It was a real struggle because the clubs from Queensland and NSW had been skipping for 20 years,” she said.

“But we got really lucky, just before COVID a couple of coaches came down from Darwin to Melbourne, and they brought their skill level to Skipz, because we were the only team in Victoria.

“We went from the bottom to suddenly winning lots of medals, which was extraordinary because we’re still very small scale.”

In competition, athletes battle across disciplines such as speed skipping, double Dutch, freestyle, and double and triple unders, where the rope rotates multiple times in one jump.

Athletes from Skipz – from eight-year-olds to adults – are training three times a week for the upcoming state championships, where they’ll compete against teams from Yea and Ararat.

Following nationals in June, about 100 Australians will head to the world championships in the US in July.

Pauline Concha, better known as surfcoastjumps on Instagram, has amassed a large following for her skipping videos.Credit: Kaiser Concha

The sport has ballooned in popularity more broadly thanks to “skipfluencers”.

World record holder Tori Boggs and Lauren Flymen – better known as lauren.jumps on Tiktok, where she boasts 1 million followers – have both gone viral for their skills.

Pauline Concha started recording her skipping progress in videos on Instagram in early 2021, having taken to the sport along with many others following the closure of gyms during COVID-19 lockdowns.

The Torquay woman has now amassed more than 77,000 followers, who tune in to watch her tightly choreographed routines and trick tutorials.

Concha’s videos often include a picturesque background, such as New Zealand’s Mount Cook or Darling Harbour. Her footwork is lightning fast, but she always maintains control over her rope, even when performing tricks called “releases” – where she lets go of one end of the rope before whipping it around and flicking it back into her hand.

“I think it’s one of the most underrated exercises on the planet,” Concha said.

Athletes from Skipz in bayside Melbourne show off their skills ahead of the Victorian skipping champs in late May.Credit: Wayne Taylor

“People like to diss it and say it’s just a primary school exercise routine, but really, it’s something you can do high intensity or low intensity.

“The other great thing is you can bring it anywhere – when I travel, I always bring my skipping rope. It’s also convenient and it’s free, which is great with the rising cost of living.”

Frankston woman Mallory Anderson said watching videos like Concha’s made her realise she too could learn the ropes. She now spends about an hour a day skipping.

“There’s endless tricks and progressions to learn, and it builds your focus and discipline,” she said.

Athletes from Skipz are training three times a week in preparation for skipping’s state championships. Credit: Wayne Taylor

“It resets and unwinds me. I run my own business, so after a big stressful workday, there’s literally no better meditation than getting into the jump rope flow.”

Freeman, who also organises the Victorian state skipping championships, said the sport was “on the cusp of taking off”. She now regularly fields calls from parents trying to get their children enrolled, or adults hoping to jump in themselves.

“I’ve had so many parents come up to me and say they wished they’d had [competitive skipping] in the country when they were growing up. It’s a cheap sport, and I think the potential to make something of it in regional Victoria in particular is huge,” Freeman said.

“There’s something in the air… I have no doubt that in the next 10 years, it’ll really take off. But it has been a very slow build up.”

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