About a year ago I was invited to take part in the Kick-off for the Men’s Health Magazine FitSchools campaign. I flew out to South Carolina and performed for 1,100 students at Gettys Middle School. The rest of the day had me teaching short workshops to all the students in between various activities that Men’s Health had planned. Below is a comment that the Fitness Editor, who was in charge that day, made in a blog post at the FitSchools website.

We kicked off our event with an incredible performance by Peter Nestler, a world champion rope jumper. At one point during Nestler’s performance, Michael Cory, principal at Gettys, turned to the FitSchool faculty and me and told us about a 6th grader who was on stage with Nestler.

Of all the students who volunteered to go up on stage, this boy was having the most fun, and it turns out he was exactly the type of child who needed this event. He had a sister who graduated from Gettys two years ago. Last month, she died of cancer. He had become so distraught that nothing seemed to make him happy anymore, Cory said. But there he was in the gymnasium yesterday having a blast.

So many people today have serious issues with their self-esteem. I remember when I was younger I had a real problem with this. I was always the brunt of the jokes and I came to a point where I thought nothing of putting myself down so long as it made other people laugh. It didn’t take long before I silently resented myself and who I was.

I won’t lie to you and say that jump rope was the sole thing that saved my life, but it certainly was a huge factor on the turn around I made from elementary through high school. Rope skipping is an unbelievable way to build your self-esteem. There’s something about the way physical activity and achievement help boost the way you feel about yourself. Jump rope is especially great because it doesn’t take long to learn 10-20 skills and be able to consistently perform them, even if you think of yourself as a total klutz! Last year I performed for over 100,000 students around the country and not once did I ever have a volunteer that couldn’t do it. It may take a few tries, but if you’re willing to put in just a little effort you can too.

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