One sport that is becoming increasingly popular both as a competitive activity and a way to increase strength, balance and cardio-respiratory endurance is single-rope freestyle jump roping.
"There are tons of different styles of freestyle jumping," said Liz Butterfield, a senior clinical exercise science major at Ithaca College, the best female single-rope freestyle jump roper in America.
"Some jumpers jump fast and incorporate a lot of rope manipulation. Others focus on the creativity and choreography aspects, while others tend to integrate more strength and gymnastic elements such as handstands and somersaults that will wow the crowd.
The best thing about freestyle is that each jumper has his or her own style and brings new things to the competition," added Butterfield, who had impressed judges and a national audience in Galveston last June with 75 seconds worth of dance steps and gymnastic moves synchronized to the rhythm of her spinning rope.
She and her sister Emily also won at the 2007 U.S. National Jump Roping Championship.
Butterfield, who began competitive jump roping 17 years ago, has performed nationally and internationally as well as coached, judged competitions, and staffed workshops and camps.
She has revealed that serious competitors preparing for the sport practice three to four days a week during the school year, and five to six days a week in the summer.
According to her, practices last from two to five hours.
"Our sport is still very young. Our goal right now is to expand it and raise awareness. The hope is that someday jumping rope will be an Olympic sport," Butterfield said.