Jump-rope with no middle: Smarter than it sounds

In classes, people tripped when trying to use the old kind

August 01, 2004|By Harry Jackson Jr. | Harry Jackson Jr.,KNIGHT RIDDER / TRIBUNE

Charlie Foxman teaches martial arts as fitness training. Now, heM-Fs an inventor. HeM-Fs patenting a jump-rope that has no middle.

M-tGo ahead and joke about it,M-v Foxman said after a vigorous workout in one of his half-dozen daily classes at his gym near St. Louis. M-tIM-Fve heard them all.M-v

He has named his invention the EZ Rope. It includes two plastic handles with two plastic ropes, each about 18 inches long. TheyM-Fre tethered to foam pads at the swinging ends that render the tips harmless.

People swing the pieces as if using a traditional jump-rope, but they donM-Ft have to have the coordination of a prizefighter or an 11-year-old girl to use the EZ Rope; in fact, they donM-Ft have to know how to jump rope at all.

In one of FoxmanM-Fs recent fitness classes, dozens of people used the rope for a 12-minute cardio workout session. Those who could jump did. Others bounced on their toes; some bounced in their knees. All twirled the ropes, some in rhythm, some not; all of the ropes were a blur.

The ropeM-Fs genesis began almost eight years ago, when Foxman expanded programs at his gym, the Midwest Martial Arts Academy. He wanted to include fitness training with exercises similar to Tae Bo, the self-defense-flavored exercise program designed by actor and martial arts expert Billy Blanks.

When he started using jumpropes in fitness classes, he found that most people couldnM-Ft jump rope and didnM-Ft have time to learn.

M-tI bought a bunch of jump-ropes, cut them down the middle and tied knots on the end and tried it in my fitness kick-boxing class; everybody liked it,M-v Foxman recalled. M-tThe majority of people canM-Ft jump rope and theyM-Fd be hitting each other with the rope. They trip, and with jump-ropes, you canM-Ft have a lot of people in a class.M-v

As time went on, Foxman tried the exercise with people who were physically unable to jump, including people in wheelchairs. They were able to get some degree of vigorous exercise, he said.

Now, heM-Fs working on exercise programs for young children and people who canM-Ft jump.

Foxman marvels at the success of his invention. M-tThis is really about building the better mousetrap.M-v

At 62, Foxman is a seventh-degree black-belt karate expert. He has operated his gym at the same place, in Creve Coeur, Ill., for 16 years.

As he introduced his invention to his classes, a few of his students, many of them successful businesspeople, warned him to get his invention patented.

Most recently, Revgear, a company that markets martial arts equipment, began selling the rope in a package that includes an instruction book that illustrates two exercise routines. The package costs $14.99 and is available through Revgear: 800-767-8288; www.revgear.com.

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