Birchbox Man: If someone has little or no jump rope experience, how should he start integrating it into a fitness routine?
Konefal: Focus on form and coordination. I like to focus on a point about five or six feet in front of me, as this provides a point of reference and awareness of where the rope is in relation to you. Set a timer for a few one-minute intervals so you can set a moderate pace and build some conditioning while working on the fundamentals.
How do you add complexity from there? What kinds of benchmarks should one set?
Gradually increase the time until you can go two minutes without stopping. Once you can do this, switch to intervals. These will be short durations of intensity followed by complete rest. Going 30 seconds on, 45 seconds off is a good start if youre intermediate to advanced.
What kind of shoes are best for jumping rope?
I prefer minimalist shoes without much support. They help to feel the ground, to make sure I am landing softly on the balls of my feet. My favorite brand is Inov-8.
Lets say were working toward double unders, where the rope goes beneath the feet twice before they hit the ground again. What is the best way to graduate to this skill level?
Once you are solid with the fundamentals and have mastered the timing of the single under, practice power jumps (single unders with extra height). Then, when comfortable, attempt to alternate double unders and then return to the single unders. Work this in with your regular routine. Over time you will start to feel the timing of the double unders and can work toward doing a double under and single under alternately.
The footwork is not much different than the standard single underjust high enough to pass the rope under twice. Be careful not to kick your heels back.
Any tips on making it all look smooth instead of clunky and embarrassing?
Your elbows should be near your side and the rope should be turned by your wrists, not your arms.
This article is part of the Birchbox Man 31-Day Challenge for January 2015. Click to see all daily challenges and to learn how you can win sweet stuff all month.