The Rookie is fun to use, but I have to untangle it every time, which gets annoying. The rope length is easily adjustable by pulling more of it through the handles, like threading a needle. However, when I accidently stepped on the rope, one side slid out.
One of the handles houses a lithium coin battery, and the other can be used to store a spare. Unfortunately the only way to check battery life is through the associated SmartRope app.
The free app, paired to the Rookie via Bluetooth, records the number of skips you’ve done, how long you took, and calories burnt. If you like, the data can all be synced with Apple’s Health app or Google Fit.
The counting is accurate. I didn’t think I needed an expensive skipping rope to count for me, but it turns out I do. Sometimes I get distracted and lose count. So I’m happy for the rope to keep track.
The app also keeps a history of your jumps, displayed as a bar graph over the month or year.
To keep up with any exercise routine, you need to be motivated. For some people the Rookie’s jump counting or history profiles may spur them on, but for me it’s the calorie counter. Knowing I’ve burnt 200 calories is a real buzz, and I want to see that number increase.
The app recommends a daily skip goal tailored for your gender, height, weight, and age.
However it asks for your actual birthday rather than age. I’d put in a fake birthday, because your date of birth is an important piece of your identity and is completely unnecessary for a sports app.
The app keeps a cumulative skipping count for each day, but I’d like to see that broken down into skips per session.
The goal aspect of the app is useful. I can always rationalise that I’ve done enough jumps in a workout, but looking at the cold hard stats, for example reaching only 40 per cent of my goal today, I can see that I need to do more work.
There are interval training modes on the app for beginner, intermediate and expert levels, where you can select training sessions with recommended workout and rest intervals based on your skill level. The app tells you how many times to jump and how much to rest. For example, ten jumps three times with rests of 30 seconds in between.
Competitive types can create competitions, but only against other SmartRope users. There’s also a leaderboard where you can rank yourself against users around the world.
But there’s something missing. The app isn’t telling me how I can improve. I’d also like to see some tailored tips, maybe even some videos, for my skipping level.
Using the Rookie for a couple of weeks has made me realise just how good skipping is as an exercise. Some people will prefer old school skipping — go hard, then the next day go harder — but I’m happy with a little, although expensive, “connected” help.