Chicago 40+ Double Dutch club offers women fun exercise option, sisterhood

Chicago Double Dutch rope club began on South side

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Wednesday, July 13, 2022
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The Chicago Double Dutch jump rope club offers women over 40 a fun exercise option and sisterhood.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Imagine starting a club with a handful of people, and, within years, the group has grown into a global phenomenon with tens of thousands of members.

That club is on Chicago's South Side, and the criteria to join is simple: Any woman 40 or older can take part.

Six years ago, a beloved playground activity at a Memorial Day gathering became the impetus for something much bigger.

"We started jumping rope at the barbecue. And I went to my friend Katrina's house the next day and said, 'You know what? We should start jumping rope again like we did back in the day, and we should actually be intentional about doing it,'" said Pamela Robinson, 51, founder of 40+ Double Dutch.

Robinson was going through a tough time, and wanted to reclaim a little slice of joy.

She invited her friends to jump, and seven or eight people showed up.

RELATED: Double Dutch jump rope club not skipping safety during coronavirus pandemic

"And I was like, 'OK!' 'Cause I had some things going on, some tragedies. So, I was like, 'Yes! Let's do this!'" said Latanda Graves, 51.

The jumping was cathartic, and, every week, more women showed up. The 40+ Double Dutch sisterhood was born.

"You forget all your problems and everything when you're out here. And I was just so blessed to find this group," said Storm Barton, 49.

Many of these women have been jumping since they were kids. Others, like ABC7 Chicago's Tanja Babich, are taught from scratch. Babich turns 40 this month.

These women are good.

They had her jumping within the first five minutes of trying.

It is fun, and it's a workout. Okila Ramsey, 50, jumps four to five days a week.

"I was a 189 pounds when I started; I'm 138 now," Ramsey said.

And Ruby Roach is 71 years young. She puts many others to shame with her Double Dutch skills.

"It's my exercise for the week. I do it three times, normally," Roach said.

But it doesn't matter your skill level. There is a place for any woman 40 or older.

"Hold in your core. Turn the rope. Walk around. Move your feet!" Robinson said. "Do some of the hop scotches, do some of the line dancing. You're moving! So, you're improving your health, but you're also having fun!"

The group now has sub-clubs in almost every major U.S. city, in Canada, Germany and Israel.

Robinson's son has filmed a documentary about the group, and they'll be entering it in film festivals this fall.