When people hear that I started a Double Dutch team for adults - and that I’m still jumping rope as a senior… Why they assume I’m a jump rope ninja and Double Dutch superstar.
Then when they migrate over to my Instagram page and watch me on video - they see I’m not that great.
I don’t jump to win awards or make money and even though I want to stay fit and to be able to rock a cute outfit, even that’s not my primary purpose.
I exercise because it feels good.
Too often, many young people look at organized sports, PE classes and obligatory after-school programs as torture chambers for their self-esteem. If you can’t score then you’re ignored. If you’re not fast, cool or athletic, you get teased, shamed or bullied.
But playing a sport doesn’t have to mean competition. Physical movement is for everybody, not just those vying for an athletic scholarship or dreaming of a pro ball career or even an A in gym class. Especially when done outside a structured environment like school and when students can pick an activity they actually like, they discover the pleasure of the game. They learn to play well rather than work out.
Competition has its place and purpose. But so does fun. Young people - old people, too - are more likely to engage in something if it sparks joy and excitement. ‘Feel good’ always beats out ‘good for you.’
We should encourage our kids to play sports, not compete. Emphasize the fun. According to one study, tweens and teens said that having fun was the number one reason they participate in sports. (Dishman et al., 2005; Biddle, Whitehead, O’Donovan, & Nevill, 2005). It’s a much happier remedy than pills. Exercise comes with a double-sided blessing - it cures and prevents illness. It’s beneficial for both mental and medical health.
How can you own a body and not want to use it? That’s like having a sexy dress only to keep it on the hanger. Yet a lot of our screen-obsessed kids are letting their beautiful bodies waste away in the closet.
In high school, I tried out for basketball and volleyball and although I thought I was good, I didn’t make the teams. Yet not doing some sort of physical activity would have been unimaginable to me. Over the years, depending on interest and availability, I have done acrobatics, aerobics, swimming, African dance, swing dance, modern dance, tae kwon do, walking, jogging, yoga.
I wasn’t trying to achieve anything. I was a girl who just wanted to have fun. I may not have made those high school teams but my pursuit of physical pleasure enlarged my world in ways I’d never have anticipated. It led me to form my own adult Double Dutch team, DC Retro Jumpers. And my team was hired as cultural ambassadors, teaching Double Dutch in Russia. More recently, my adventures with Double Dutch inspired my MG book, JAYLA JUMPS IN (Albert Whitman & Co.)
Check that out - child’s play brought me good health, new friends, world travel, a book deal. I have to agree with the Oaqui sentiment: “When fun gets deep enough, it can heal the world.”