Nothing beats skip­ping to a tune in your lo­cal park

TV pre­sen­ter Miq­uita Oliver says her lock­down passion beats run­ning and im­proves phys­i­cal and men­tal health

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Women's Sport Monthly -

Dur­ing lock­down, I read that the best thing we can do to stay young, alive and healthy is to jump. I dis­cov­ered skip­ping a few years ago, and is now some­thing I rely on for my men­tal health and for my phys­i­cal well-be­ing.

I started train­ing re­ally hard a couple of years ago and it was my per­sonal trainer, Ge­orgie, who added skip­ping to our ses­sions. It is the best cardio in the world. She was away for a bit, so I stepped up the skip­ping and started lis­ten­ing to mu­sic at the same time. It be­came a com­pletely dif­fer­ent thing. When you skip to a beat, it is a much more plea­sur­able way to stay ac­tive. It be­comes a mix­ture of dance and skip. You are ba­si­cally go­ing to the park, and hav­ing a dance.

I lost a lot of weight through train­ing re­ally hard about two years ago, and it changed my re­la­tion­ship with ex­er­cise – it led to me redis­cov­er­ing sport.

I thought I just wanted to lose some weight, but that is not what it is about. It was about shed­ding other things, the emo­tional stuff. I sud­denly re­mem­bered that I loved sport as a child right up un­til I started pre­sent­ing on TV when I was 15 years old. There was not much time left to con­cen­trate on any­thing else. Be­fore that, I loved ev­ery­thing, football, tennis, bad­minton – I even played net­ball for a bit.

It is so im­por­tant to be ac­tive when you are young, and I think it would have helped me ten­fold if, along­side

Pop­world, school, T4,

Ra­dio One and all those other things I was do­ing, that I had played a bit of sport at the week­ends with my friends. It would have re­ally helped me have a bit more bal­ance and some­thing else in my life.

I like run­ning, but with skip­ping you do not have to set out to run any dis­tances. When I turned 30, six years ago, I de­cided to run the Lon­don Marathon and I did not even re­ally train. I thought that it was not even that dif­fi­cult. I com­pleted it in 5hr 15 min, I could have got closer to four hours and 30 if I had trained prop­erly.

My ap­proach to sport is, just get on with it. My mum said that my nan­nie was a long-dis­tance run­ner when she was younger, which I never knew. My nan loves how ath­letic I am now and says this is how she was when she was young.

I am also proud to say that I got my dad skip­ping. He is a 6ft Rasta­far­ian, so not the most ob­vi­ous per­son you are likely to see hav­ing a skip. But he was so sweet. He started skip­ping, messed it up, but then did it again and was pant­ing, and that is the thing, when peo­ple start skip­ping, they be­come child­like and think back to a time in their lives when they could and did skip.

Yes, you do have to get over the self-con­scious part of other peo­ple look­ing at you when you are skip­ping. But be­cause ev­ery­one is more used to be­ing out there and show­ing their daily rou­tine, it be­came a reg­u­lar thing that “yeah, I’m skip­ping” and oth­ers were too, so that was great to see.

Dur­ing lock­down I started post­ing some videos of my cousin and I skip­ping. We called it “skip school”, as in “the school of skip­ping”, not the “skip­ping of school”! Peo­ple re­ally got into it. I would post a video skip­ping to mu­sic and peo­ple would send me theirs. It was lovely and re­ally in­spir­ing. I was get­ting loads of mes­sages ev­ery day.

It is a great iso­la­tion sport. In deep lock­down, all you needed was a rope, a small space at the park and af­ter 20 min­utes to half an hour of skip­ping, you were ex­hausted.

For women, it is great for pelvic floor mus­cles, and you can hold your rope and do some bril­liant stretch­ing – it is a mul­ti­func­tional thing. There is one prob­lem, though. I have to say there are not many great skip­ping ropes out there. I may have to in­vent one. I keep run­ning out of them, the good ones are plas­tic be­cause they whip bet­ter, but it is not eco-friendly, so one needs to be de­signed that whips like that, but is not plas­tic. The ex­pen­sive ropes tend to be too jazzy. It is good to keep it ba­sic with a skip­ping rope.

I am not one to do all the tricks that you see peo­ple in the gym do­ing. For me it is about en­durance, skip­ping for one minute, then one minute off. You are pretty tired by the end of a 20-minute ses­sion.

If you bring the mu­sic el­e­ment to skip­ping, then it be­comes like meet­ing up for a dance. Boys, girls, adults, kids all skip­ping to the mu­sic. It is a dif­fer­ent kind of skip­ping, it is nei­ther mas­cu­line, nor fem­i­nine, it is some­where in the mid­dle.

Skip­ping is all about find­ing that rhythm be­tween your heart, the mu­sic and the rope. It nur­tures your mind and body and works you out. When I was teach­ing peo­ple how to skip in the parks through­out the sum­mer, I would put the mu­sic on and it would help them find their beat. It is such a ground­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, all parts of you get con­nected.

I like lis­ten­ing to reg­gae, hip hop, ragga and R&B when I am skip­ping.

You’d be sur­prised, the other day I had a lit­tle skip to Ma­roon 5, and that worked re­ally well – what­ever tune gets you in the zone, just like when you are on a run. It does re­ally help.

What I would like to do and see is more peo­ple con­gre­gat­ing in their parks, skip­ping in uni­son and in groups. It is def­i­nitely some­thing that I want to look into be­cause it is the sort of thing which could be so fun to do with lots of peo­ple at the same time. I think you could get a real at­mos­phere – if you had 20 or 30 peo­ple, although that may not re­ally work in the cur­rent cli­mate.

It is like Zumba. If any­thing sounds a bit more like you are go­ing for a dance, you are into it. Or if you think of the spin­ning set-up, I think that could work for skip­school classes, with the lights and tunes in a room and ev­ery­one goes for it. There is def­i­nitely a place in the mar­ket for it!

It is a great iso­la­tion sport – all you need is a rope and some space out­side

New pur­suit: Miq­uita Oliver com­pleted the 2014 Lon­don Marathon, but says skip­ping takes less time than run­ning to reach your limit

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