303 jumprope IISuch a simple piece of equipment, this rope with a handle at each end. So innocuous-looking that it’s easy to dismiss in favor of tech-forward gadgets and cardio mills that more often than not leave you feeling somehow cheated and underwhelmed. Your goal is to tighten that bod up for the heat and you think the only way to get there is to spend your precious time in the gym huffing along on the elliptical.

Not this summer.

Portable, inexpensive and sturdy only scratch the surface of what the humble jump rope can offer. Burn hundreds of calories in 15 minutes? Check. Improve cardiopulmonary function? Check. Increase stamina and muscle endurance? Check.

This low-impact option is also easy on the joints, strengthens muscles in both the upper and lower body, promotes higher bone density and offers a great way to practice balance.303 jumprope I

Sold in a dizzying array of colors, lengths, materials and handles, selecting the proper rope can be confusing. I’m a firm believer in going back to basics, but I too have been wooed by some of the newer models. What I recommend is to have a simple, old-school skipping rope and a high-end speed rope that you can (and will) eventually graduate to.

What’s more important is to ensure your rope is the appropriate length for you body. It’s simple: stand on the middle of the rope with both feet and measure the handles to your armpits. Many ropes are adjustable and can be customized for fit.

Are you ready for your challenge?

Let’s start with 150 revolutions on:

Week One Monday, Wednesday and Friday

Week Two Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday

Week Three Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday

Week Four Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday

Weeks 5, 6, 7 and 8 Return to the same days as the first four weeks and increase to 250 revolutions per day.

Weeks 9, 10, 11 and 12 Increase to 300 revolutions on given days.

At the end of 12 weeks, you will be stronger, healthier and more vital than when you started, with a minimal time commitment. And you will have jumped 12,600 times.

Your challenge begins… NOW.

PT-color-headshot-I31Jodilyn Stuart is the Health & Sports Senior Staff Writer for 303 Magazine, owner of ModaBody Fitness, and has been a professional fitness geek since 1997. If you have questions, feel free to email at: [email protected]