Billed as “a mash up of recess and boot camp,” Punk Rope has finally made it to Maine.

The edgy workout program was invented in 2004 by Tim Haft, who is based in New York City. Last Thursday, two former Maine Roller Derby skaters and certified Punk Ropers started offering a weekly Punk Rope class at the Maine Studios in Portland.

“The idea is to create a counterculture of exercisers,” said Diane Kibbins, who is known to roller derby fans as Vexacious D and is one of the Maine instructors. “It’s like roller derby. It’s a scene all its own.”

Each Punk Rope session involves jumping rope, of course, but also brings in games and relays to provide a break from all the rapid footwork.

“We do fun things, kind of like playing games at recess,” said Lisa Bassett, a.k.a. Olive Spankins, who is the other instructor. “So we trick people into forgetting that they’re working so hard.”

Every week brings a different theme. Last Thursday, participants got a price break if they came dressed in black and red. Tonight, the workout will follow a roller-derby theme, with participants simulating leg and arm whips and falling down and getting back up. Those who attend tonight and come up with a roller-derby name will get $2 off the fee.

Bassett and Kibbins provide the ropes, and have some available for purchase for those who want to practice at home. Participants should wear flat-soled shoes with support, such as low-top basketball sneakers, and bring water and a yoga mat.

“It’s an interval training workout,” said Bassett, 35, who lives in Durham. “You push yourself to a high-intensity threshold, and then you rest. And then you push yourself again.”

While Bassett instructs the group in the high-intensity, high-impact style of the workout, Kibbins leads a simultaneous low-intensity, low-impact version for beginners and those with injuries.

“If you want to do the high-intensity, high-impact workout, it’ll kick your butt,” Bassett said.

Despite the butt-kicking aspects of the high-intensity version, the workout is intentionally crafted to appeal to people with a wide range of abilities.

“We’re targeting those folks who have an athletic background and want to push themselves to people who’ve never exercised before,” said Kibbins, 35, who lives in Falmouth.

With a name like Punk Rope, it’s pretty much required that music takes a prominent place in the workouts. “We’re trying to use as much local music as possible,” Bassett said.

Currently, the playlist includes tracks from King Memphis, Pigboat, Space vs. Speed, Aubin Thomas and DJ Vik44.

“People think it’s going to be a lot of punk rock, but any genre works, because we have to warm people up and cool them down,” Bassett said.

And while the hip soundtrack sets this exercise program apart from the competition, Bassett said her favorite part of Punk Rope “is seeing people smiling and happy and forgetting that they’re working out.”

Sure beats watching people grimace and groan at the gym. 

Staff Writer Avery Yale Kamila can be contacted at 791-6297 or at: [email protected]