Martial Arts

Improve your jumping jacks with The Chipmunks

Wait, what? The Chipmunks?  Yep.  The last few classes, the Chipmunks have helped me.

No, I haven’t sustained a significant head trauma.

Two weeks ago, I had my two-hour in-person test for my yellow belt.  And you all know I have struggled with jumping jacks — we do 350-450 per class.  It is the hardest part of class for me, and there is no way around it.  I need to be able to do that many jumping jacks.  And after four months of classes, I don’t feel much progress happening.

After the test, a few of us were talking to some black belts that watched / graded the test.  I asked about “my nemesis” the jumping jacks.  The answer?

Just go to your happy place.  Think about something else.  Make a grocery list.

The rest of taekwondo class is very mentally engaging, and my mind rarely wanders.  But jumping jacks?  I’d been letting myself go to a place of dread around them.  I needed to find a happy place.

Meanwhile, my son has been really into all the Alvin and the Chipmunks movies, complete with their catchy titles of Chipwrecked, Road Chip…  I’ve been fully immersed in the cheesy world of chipmunk harmonies.

So I get to my first class after the test, and having not prepared my Happy Place before hand, I thought…okay.  Song.  Let’s try a happy, peppy song to get through these.


And what songs had I just heard that afternoon, earworms all of them?

The Chipmunks, Uptown Funk.  The Chipmunks, Shake your Groove Thang. The Chipmunks, Juicy Wiggle. So there they were.  Jumping jacks, to a soundtrack of The Chipmunks. 


I’ve since moved on to different songs (like I would admit it if I hadn’t) but for the first time, jumping jacks were not so horrible. Incrementally better.  Oh, mine still looked bad, because after about 100 my feet stop moving the full range and I’m feeling the cardio aspect. But the Happy Place Soundtrack works!


November to January were push-up challenge months, so February is the “stop making Mr. Ninja shake his head at my flailing, sad jumping jacks” month. I’ve come up with a plan working on both my cardiovascular fitness and strengthening the  leg muscles (calves, quads, hip flexors) that will help me get through 400 jumping jacks with better form.


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