By Shirley Hawkins
INGLEWOOD — Every Saturday morning at 9 a.m., the women of the 40 Plus Double Dutch Club gather at Rogers Park to socialize and indulge in a childhood pastime: double dutch jump rope.
The women — single, divorced, widowed and some even cancer survivors — take turns jumping between two rapidly swinging ropes as other members shout encouragement. The women find that jumping double dutch is an affordable way to tone, burn calories and improve their mental and physical health.
“If they don’t know how to do double dutch, we will teach them,” said Stacy Adams Wright, captain of the West Coast branch of the 40 Plus Double Dutch Club.
Along with exercise, the club fosters fun and friendship along the way.
And that’s not all. The members also indulge in hopscotch, hula hoop and other games they played as children.
Thankful that they still have their health and strength to participate in outdoor activities, the members end every meeting with a prayer expressing thanks that they are still physically fit enough to jump.
“It’s so much fun!” said Latisha Donald, 45, the married mother of three who said she looks forward to her double dutch workout every Saturday. “You can be yourself and it’s always a feel good environment. All the women are very supportive and you get a workout at the same time.”
Not only do the women indulge in double dutch, but there are other activities they also participate in.
“There are so many things to do,” Donald said. “We do 5K runs, we have empowerment summits, and everyone gets together for birthdays. We also practice line dancing and we even started a book club.
“We travel to different places and we teach people how to jump double dutch,” she added.
“We go to a lot of functions with the churches and sometimes the city has us come out to teach double dutch to a crowd. We have even taught the firefighters and police officers how to jump double dutch.”
Carson resident Pamela Brown, 62, said three years ago she got a text message about the 40 Plus Double Dutch Club on her phone.
The Chicago transplant said, “I always carried a double dutch rope in my car, which I had been doing for 20 years.
Brown said she joined the Inglewood branch of the club in 2021. We thought we would get just 5 or 10 people, but the club just started growing and growing.
“It’s like you’re going back to your childhood and you’re just playing,” Brown said. “We wear red T-shirts and on the back of our shirts are our names and our ages.”
The oldest member, known simply as Ms. Joyce, is 89 years old. She does line dancing and hula hooping. “She gets in a few jumps now and then and she is adorable,” Brown said, adding that the group traveled to Memphis in May to participate in the Beale Street Takeover.
“Sub clubs came from all over the country — even from Canada and Germany — and there were close to 500 members there,” Brown said. “We taught some people how to jump and they were so receptive.”
On a recent weekend, the group participated in the West Coast Big Jump in Phoenix where hundreds of jump ropers came from all over the United States.”
At last count, there were 32,000 members in clubs throughout the country.
“It takes you away from stress and worry,“ said Wright, the Inglewood club captain who said she started jumping double dutch when she was 8 or 9 years old.
“It was just the thing to do,” she recalls. “Every street had girls double dutching. Before school and during lunch, everybody had a rope.”
Pamela Robinson, 52, the original founder of the 40 Plus Double Dutch Club in Chicago, started the club seven years ago when she was going through a difficult time.
She saw jumping rope as a way to take a break from “adulting,” relieve daily stress and share camaraderie with other women.
“It takes you back to childhood,” Robinson said, “back to a time when there was no stress, no bills, no issues when you’re a kid jumping rope. So many times, when you reach 40, you are so busy taking care of everybody else — your kids, your husband, your parents — that you don’t take time to take care of yourself. So all of these women now are being intentional about self-care.”
Membership is open to women 40 years of age and up.
Brown said members of the club form lifelong friendships.
“We are really supportive of each other,” she said. “The sisterhood has been amazing.”
For more information, visit the 40 Plus Double Dutch website at 40plusdoubledutchclub.org.
Shirley Hawkins is a freelance reporter for Wave Newspapers. She can be reached at metropressnews.com.