Kids these days may never fully understand the joys of playing outside.
Trapped in their iPhones, iPads and other gadgets, simple times of hanging outside jumping rope can sometimes get lost in spirited games of Angry Bird. Keeping child-like joy alive and burning up to 700 calories at the same time, husband-wife duo Michelle and Shawn Clark have created “Double Dutch Aerobics.”
A seasoned jumper and Brooklyn native, Michelle has worked as fitness instructor but could never shake that pull to get a jump. “Every time I saw people jumping rope, I always wanted to jump in. That spark as an adult, still kind’ve crazy to ask ‘hey, can I get a jump.’ I knew I wasn’t alone in that feeling so I always had the idea of an adult double dutch aerobics fitness class,” she said.
Jumping freestyle since the tender age of four and a member of a team since the third grade, Michelle’s calling to the ropes was organic. With a little push from her husband, she tackled a daring challenge: teaching someone in under a minute.
With the realization of that skill, her fitness background and unwavering support from her partner, Michelle set out to finally start “Double Dutch Aerobics.”
“One day at the YMCA’s open day, family day, I told my husband that I can teach anyone in less than a minute, anybody,” she explained. “He was like ‘oh my God, I didn’t know you could really do it.’ I started the class and from there it just grew.”
Initially starting with two former teammates as instructors, Michelle quickly realized that in order for her business to grow she would need another instructor who’s passion and availability matched hers. “Ihad two teammates that were a little available but their availability kept changing and they couldn’t commit so I was like ‘what am I going to do,’” she said.
Stepping in to further his wife’s vision, Shawn – who never jumped a day in his life – convinced Michelle to teach and certify him as her co-instructor.
“When she came up with the idea I was like ‘this is incredible, this idea is incredible,’” Shawn said. “I’ve never jumped double dutch in my life but my wife taught me everything and I’m a pretty fast learner.”
“Shawn was like, ‘yo teach me, if we turn this into a business teach me how to do this.’ At first I was feeling like you can’t do this because my former teammates we were on a team so he helped me learn how to teach someone,” Michelle added.
Now, the Clark’s extend their love for the sport and fun fitness to a growing audience and most importantly their instructors.
Certifying instructors to establish a new branch, “Double Dutch Aerobics” started in Brooklyn and has since expanded to Atlanta. The couple travel to other cities to test out the audience, meet possible instructors and take notes on when to run a certification weekend so that a new city will be able to enjoy the workout.
“Our focus is to make Double Dutch Aerobics a billion dollar brand. In order to do that, we have to expand outside of New York and Atlanta,” Shawn explained. “We have to make this a worldwide business. That’s why we’re going around the country to have people in other cities, states and hopefully other countries, experience ‘Double Dutch Aerobics.’”
“We literally started with classes in Brooklyn and when we were about to move our Brooklyn audience was like ‘excuse me?’ That’s how we first started because I couldn’t just cancel classes on them because they were going to be angry with me. We certified our group of teachers and they continued the Brooklyn classes,” Michelle said.
To become a certified instructor, hopefuls attend a vigorous double dutch weekend where they learnt he ins and outs of the class – focusing not only on technique but the fun aspect of the class.
In any class with Michelle and Shawn they make it important to note that there is smiling, laughter and a sense of comfortable camaraderie for attendees of all fitness levels to enjoy.
“The biggest thing is that class if for any and everybody. The best part is that we have adults that come to class that have never jumped before and the joy that comes to their face when they learned is like they turn into children. Our class is filled with child like joy as well as burning 500 to 700 calories,” Michelle said.
“The people who apply to become instructors they actually love double dutch. The main thing you have to have is the love for the sport because if you’re not in the shape that you’re in you will push past it because you love it so much,” Shawn added.
Available every Saturday, members of “Double Dutch Aerobics” pay a monthly fee of $10. Those interested in dropping in for an experience pay $15.
Follow @DoubleDutchAerobics on Instagram and Facebook to find out what city the power couple are tackling next, how to become a certified teacher or a member of the growing fitness community.