Hands-on review: Renpho smart skipping rope
Image credit: Renpho
New year, new you and all that. Do your heart a solid and skip your way to better health.
So, it's January again. Self-improvement is once more high up on the agenda for many of us. Resolutions are decided. Promises are made. This year, things are going to be different.
Fitness is hard work and sticking at it, consistently putting in the effort, is even harder. If you can find an activity you enjoy doing, one that makes the sticking-at-it that much easier, win-win.
Skipping has long been a popular pastime for a good cardiopulmonary workout. It's a good choice for HIT (High-Intensity) training, where you switch back and forth between intense bursts and a more leisurely phase. The classic image of a muscular boxer skipping in the gym has helped banish any notion that "skipping is for girls". It's also something you can do almost anywhere; you can stay in one spot and work out, and it doesn't take much specialised equipment.
That said, and this now being 2022, there's more to the modern-day skipping rope than just a line of cloth with a wooden handle at each end. Now, skipping ropes can be Smart with a capital S.
Renpho's Smart Skipping Rope is a fine example of what skipping in the 21st century is about. It comes with a three metre-long adjustable PVC-wrapped steel wire, designed to withstand years of ground whipping, that is both tough and - mercifully for beginners - non-tangling. The rope length can be adjusted, according to your height and preference.
The handles are made of a lightweight, non-slip, reasonably environmentally-friendly ABS with EVA, foam which is comfortable and reassuringly tactile to hold whilst working up a sweat.
Each handle also has a 360° flexible turn head, which have been designed for stability and fluency, even at high-speed rotations. Renpho say the head bearings have a life of around 10 million revolutions. That's a lot of skipping.
That's the basic rope construction. If this Renpho unit didn't do anything else, this would still be a very nice, good quality skipping rope. Fact is, you can treat it like a standard skipping rope any time - you'll still be feeling the benefits.
However, the attraction for many people will be the smart aspects of this rope. It features a speed jump counter, with three smart skipping modes (Free Jump, Time Countdown, Numbers Countdown). The rope has a built-in Bluetooth smart high-performance chip and is equipped with three sensitive, precise Hall sensors that track and log your jumping data.
The small (15x22mm) but legible HD LCD display in one of the handles gives you feedback on your workout, such as skip time and total number of skips. This is powered by two AAA batteries inserted into the handle. A red LCD light indicates when they need replacing. It's a very low-draw device, so even basic batteries seem to last a fair old while (we've been using rechargable AAA batteries, for what it's worth).
Naturally, this being 2022, there is also an accompanying app: Renpho Fit. This is intended to store all your workout data, so you can monitor your progress. For each workout, skip time, total skip number, calories burned, and so forth can be captured and reviewed. It's there if you want to use it, although like a lot of smart gadgets that have a companion app, the latter can sometimes feel like an afterthought. Certainly, opinion on the app's performance is somewhat divided amongst users, with some people complaining that the rope and the app periodically forget to capture their statistics.
If you're the kind of person who likes to pore over their exercise history, getting granular with the data, and demands to know that their skip history is guaranteed accurate to each single skip, you may find yourself a little disappointed here. It's probably better to view the app as an entertaining sideshow to the main event: the rope and the exercise. The app will at least provide an holistic overview of your long-term performance, even if there is the occasional workout glitch.
This is a good-quality, well-made skipping rope which is easy and enjoyable to use and which also has a few smarts up its sleeve if you're data-curious about your performance. It's skipping, made smarter.
£19.99 from Amazon.co.uk
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