Literally whipping you into shape

Everyone remembers the rope climb from gym class. Probably not too fondly. So you might not like what I’m about to tell you: It’s time to grab a rope again.


Instead of dangling from the ceiling, however, this one’s anchored to the ground, and your job is to grasp the other end and heave it up and down. It doesn’t sound too challenging, but try telling that to your heart and lungs — not to mention your arms, shoulders, back, abs and legs — after a few seconds. They’d argue if they weren’t so tired. Get ready for rope burn, because this combination of strength training and low-impact cardio is probably headed to a gym near you, if it’s not there already.

If you want someone to blame, look to John Brookfield, a North Carolina-based strongman who’s known for dragging trucks, ripping up decks of cards and bending nails. About five years ago, he was searching for a new feat and came up with the idea of creating continuous waves with ropes, which turned out to be a challenge even for him. “If you lift a weight, as it comes down, you can use momentum,” he says. “With ropes, it’s all pure output. There’s no lull in the action.”

Whipped is the latest wacky workout to hit British shores from the US. Strength ropes, kettlebells and exercise balls are all incorporated in the workout. The session revolves around the long ropes that are used to literally whip you into shape. To the sound of pumping music, the class begins with a warm-up jog around the gym with some bum kicks, squats and knee lifts thrown in. People are then paired up to start the class.

Each couple works their way clockwise around the room where two different exercises are performed for 30 seconds at a time at each station. Various equipment are on offer to aid the strength and conditioning from balancing on an exercise ball to do the ‘plank’, to working the stomach muscles by swinging a kettlebell from one side of the body to the other in a sitting position. But the piéce de résistance is the strength ropes that ominously stretch the length of the room and are anchored in the middle with weights. Each time a pair reaches the end of the ropes as they circle the room, they pick them up for a work out like no other.

Holding a rope in each hand the idea is to move your arms up and down creating ripples and waves along the length of the rope. The weight of the ropes (with one set heavier than the other) means it becomes a hard task to whip them up and down — particularly as fatigue sets in as the class goes on.