February 28, 2013

Off Beat: Give Punk Rope a twirl

Want a different workout – one with an edge and maybe some decent tunes? This may be just the ticket.

By Ray Routhier rrouthier@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

Punk Rope is jump rope with an attitude.

click image to enlarge


click image to enlarge

Katie Bell and Tina Burnell play “cone tag” during a Punk Rope class at Riverton Elementary School. The class begins with stretching and moves on to a series of mini-sessions that include jumping rope and schoolyard games. It’s all set to “fast and fun” music, says instructor Allison Kennie.

Courtesy photo


WHEN: 6 to 7 p.m. Tuesdays; 10 to 11 a.m. Saturdays. Classes are running now and will go on indefinitely.

WHERE: Riverton Elementary School, 1600 Forest Ave., Portland.

HOW MUCH: $7 per class; $50 for a 10-class pass

INFO: punkrope207@gmail.com; akennie@gmail.com

Not so much attitude that you have to have a safety pin through your lip and a mohawk haircut to participate, though.

The term "punk" is more about the fact that Punk Rope is an alternative to working out in a gym or other kinds of exercise. Sort of the way The Ramones presented a refreshing alternative to Donny and Marie Osmond.

"The gym is great, but it's not everyone's cup of tea," said Allison Kennie, teacher of two weekly Punk Rope classes at Riverton Elementary School in Portland. "The punk also refers to the varied music we use in each playlist. Fast and fun is always what we are going for, but I wouldn't want anyone to think that punk rock is the only thing they would hear."

Kennie says the playlists she uses as the soundtrack for her classes can range from Jay-Z and Weezer to The Rolling Stones and Elvis Presley.

She's also done playlists using all local artists' songs, where she encourages class members to wear T-shirts promoting their favorite local groups.

So what exactly is Punk Rope, besides a chance to sweat to an eclectic musical selection?

The term was coined, and the workout created, in 2004 by personal trainer Tim Haft. His aim, according to Kennie, was to create a workout that combined creativity, play, community and rock 'n' roll.

The hour-long classes that Kennie teaches begin with stretching and a cardio warm-up. Then the class is divided into about 15 mini-sessions -- maybe 90 seconds to five minutes each -- that include jumping rope and playing a series of games you might remember from your days in the schoolyard.

"Literally, we play human frogger, freeze tag, leap frog, blob tag," said Kennie.

If you've never jumped rope, don't worry, Kennie says.

"The jumping comes in time, with practice," she said, adding that she tries to make the activities fit people's comfort levels. "Half the class might be swinging their rope next to them for a jump, and the other half is working on new tricks and jumps."

Kennie has had kids as young as age 5 in her workshops, and in most classes, the age range goes up to people in their 60s.

She wants her Punk Rope classes to be as inclusive as possible, so "anyone can participate and feel accomplished."

I think Joey Ramone said the same thing about punk music.

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:



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