Celebrity trainer Erin Oprea is a huge fan of simple, at-home workouts. She advises her clients to use water bottles instead of dumbbells or towels instead of gliders—anything, really, that makes it easier to get moving despite limited time and limited equipment.
One of her favorite ways to work out anywhere, we learned this week, is jumping rope.
As Oprea wrote on Instagram, it's her favorite form of cardio. "Today I had an extra 15 minutes so I just pulled into a parking lot and got a couple (1,000) steps in!! Fit it in when and where you can the whole world is my gym!!" she wrote. She's also that mom on the sideline of her kids' soccer game, jumping rope while she watches. "It gets my steps in and keeps me off my phone durning their game!" she wrote.
You can see the post below, via @erinoprea:
Maybe it's just us, but jumping rope seems to come naturally to some and very much not naturally to others. It's like dancing, except with more opportunity to get tangled and fall to the floor. But if Oprea is a fan, we know there must be some way to make jump rope work even for beginners. So we checked in with her about why she loves the exercise and how to make it work even if you have two left feet.
Oprea tells SELF that the biggest perk of jumping rope is you can do it anywhere you have some open space. The list of where she jump ropes goes beyond the sidelines. "I do it in vacant areas of airports; at home in my living room; and even around random parking lots in-between sessions with clients," she says. She loves the ability to quickly get her heart rate up and uses it as an easy way to get some extra steps in throughout the day. "It's a definite win-win."
"Jumping rope definitely does not come easily to all," Oprea adds. "But lots of practice is the key, and you will improve."
She recommends that newbies don't try to reach for the sky just yet. "For me, the most important rule is to keep my jumps low to minimize the impact as I hit the ground. It's all about timing and keeping the jumps tiny." Instead of jumping each time like you're trying to make a slam dunk, think about keeping your feet just high enough to get over the rope. This will help with speed as well as timing—but feel free to keep things slow while you get in those practice jumps.
Arm placement is also important, Oprea says. Your elbows should stay close to your body at about waist height, and your forearms should be extended. Focus on turning the rope mostly with your wrists—your shoulders should stay pretty much in place the entire time.
Aside from spending lots of time jumping up and down, Oprea offers some more equipment-specific advice for those who want to get better. "The number one way to jump better is to choose your rope according to your height," she says. She suggests RX Smart Gear. The brand makes custom jump ropes according to size and Oprea has her own signature jump rope with the company. The brand's website also has some helpful information about how to figure out the right jump rope size for you.
At the end of the day, repetition is really the key. "Keep practicing…it’s the only way to improve," says Oprea. And once you have the muscle memory down, you'll have a really great workout skill that you can whip out wherever, whenever.