Jump into fitness

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BY SKYLA LUCKEY, Staff Writer

ST. PETERSBURG – More than 40 youth participated in this past Saturday’s jump rope workshop held at the Thomas “Jet” Jackson Recreation Center. Veteran jump rope coach, Yvonne Moody, and her team the Hurricane Jumpers came from Miami to teach the basics: speed, power and freestyle.

Cathy Fort, a recreation supervisor for the City of St. Petersburg, was looking for a way for kids to get fit and have fun and thought jump roping would be a perfect fit.

The aim of the workshop was to get each of the 11 recreation centers on board with an after school jump rope program that will teach the sport through a method of skill development. Her goal is to have one or two teams established at each recreation center, and have competitions among them.

Competing in jump rope competitions as a child in New York, Fort saw that St. Petersburg didn’t have any programs such as this and wanted to bring it here. Moody helped Fort get volunteers such as jump rope coach and Tampa Bay resident, Lindsey Wheeldon and Marcey Floyd from Orlando to help her get workshop off the ground.

Through their involvement in jump rope competitions, Fort crossed paths with Moody quite some time ago, and Moody’s background and work inspired Fort to want to do the same for the youth here.

While interning in college, her mentor invited her to watch a group of jump ropers. Seeing the kids exercising and having fun inspired her to set up an afterschool program when she became a physical education teacher in a Miami elementary school. The program took off and was moved to a recreation center so children of all ages could participate.

Through the years she has seen many children excel through constant practice. It takes a while to get really good, so you must be dedicated. Moody feels that the sport takes a lot of brainpower, and she hasn’t figured out if the sport draws intellects, or makes them.

Moody encourages everyone to participate even if they’re lacking in the athletic department. “Anybody can do it. It’s all about the turning. Anybody can lift off their feet and jump,” she said.

Fort is looking for sponsors to get the program off the ground. “I have not set up a cost for it yet. I’m trying to get sponsors for it so the kids won’t have to worry about that right now. I’m just trying to get interested bodies in and see how it goes from there,” she said.

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