If you ever catch New York City native Bernadette Henry jumping rope, you’ll find that she has a huge grin on her face for two reasons.
“You’re not supposed to jump with your mouth open because the air will increase in your lungs quicker and you’ll be out of breath,” she told us was the first reason. The other? Because jumping rope has provided her with a lot of joy.
“I always tell people, if it’s not fun, it’s not sustainable,” she said. The 38-year-old mother of three (9, 7 and 1-year-old boys) has been sustaining her jump rope workouts for many years, with her beginnings dating back to childhood.
“Back in my day, like in the ’80s, double dutch was our thing,” she said. “When we would go outside for recess we would either be playing double dutch or the single-rope games like Trip Around the World. There were a whole bunch of jump rope games that we used to play and there was a song for all of them. So primarily in school and at lunchtime, this is what Black girls did in Harlem and in the Bronx.”
And while many moved away from their love of jumping rope as they entered into adulthood, Henry continued and only got better. In fact, she got amazing at it.
She trained with middleweight boxers like Michael Olajide, Jr. and the late Stephan Johnson. She started learning tricks that, to this day, drop jaws. And in the midst of enjoying her favorite old hobby, she managed to drop 50 pounds. From there, she took her talent online, amassing a following of more than 20,000 people on Instagram, ended up in an Advil commercial, and inevitably, started teaching others through her program, Make It Fun NYC, how to burn fat and achieve overall fitness through jumping rope.
“Jump rope is the number one conditioning tool out there,” she said. “The stamina, the balance, the coordination, the timing, your reflexes. It just has so many wonderful benefits physically.”
So we talked to Henry about her how she became so skilled at jumping rope as an adult, why people …