It was easy for fitness junkies to fall into despair when the coronavirus pandemic closed gyms for months. Many beginners looking to work out also didn’t know exactly what to do, either. But Raleigh-based startup Crossrope offers an innovative solution: its weighted jump ropes and fitness community are enabling working out from home in a new Covid-19-proof way.
For Crossrope Founder and CEO Dave Hunt, his love and passion for jump-roping extended far beyond his days as a high school track and field athlete, continuing to keep him engaged through his time as a pilot in the Navy. Hunt found he didn’t enjoy many other types of cardiovascular exercise that were more commonly emphasized in fitness communities.
“I kind of had that competitive inner spirit continue even after my track and field days ended,” Hunt said. “So jumping rope, interestingly enough, was kind of the one form of cardiovascular exercise that I really enjoyed. I just felt like it was dynamic and fun and engaging and different.”
While everyone else in the gym was on treadmills and bikes, Hunt would be jumping rope, something portable he could carry whenever and wherever he was deployed. Jump-roping didn’t seem common; it was more viewed as an activity reserved for children, boxers or MMA fighters. So a seed was planted in Hunt’s mind for a better jump rope experience.
When Hunt suffered an injury bench pressing in 2011, he moved ahead into prototyping for Crossrope, creating an interchangeable jump rope system with different weights. The fully bootstrapped startup was officially founded in May, 2012, selling the ropes via an ecommerce store. Crossrope’s jump rope models currently range from $99 to $238.
In an effort to create the best experience for their customers, Crossrope began sharing online workout challenges in a Facebook community, which now has more than 91,000 members. That success inspired the team to create the Crossrope app, which first launched in 2016.
The app, which is available for free with a purchase of Crossrope’s jump ropes, offers five new workouts a week and a new challenge every month. There’s also a premium version of the Crossrope app, available at $9.99 a month, which unlocks even more workouts and challenges.
The company’s mission is to address a major societal issue. There are so many new fitness technologies and trends, Hunt said, but the national statistics surrounding obesity keep getting worse.
“So how is that possible?” Hunt said. “How are we having all these advancements in fitness and all these new products without getting the corresponding aggregate results? And our internal philosophy around that is that there needs to be something that is different and fun and engages people.”
While many people lose willpower for an exercise activity they don’t really want to do, Hunt said Crossrope has gained traction from amazing customer success stories. People want to use Crossrope not just because they need to be healthy but because it’s fun and easy to fit into your lifestyle.
“I thought when I launched this, it was just going to be kind of a better mousetrap, a better jump-rope design,” Hunt said. “But customers are using words like ‘life-changing.’”
Crossrope is different from all the other types of bulky fitness gadgets competing for your spare bedroom, Hunt said. Crossrope hopes to offer an experience where people can still get outside and have an easy, fun fitness experience, especially for those who are new to jumping rope.
With over 250,000 customers since the business started and hockey stick growth, Crossrope has changed a lot since the days where Hunt was tinkering around with the idea in his garage, he said.
When the pandemic hit, Crossrope’s value became even more recognizable with so many looking for ways to exercise at home. Crossrope skyrocketed overnight, Hunt said. The startup had only 15 employees at the beginning of the year but over the past six months amid Covid-19, Crossrope has hired 21 new people.
Still, throughout the pandemic, Crossrope’s ultimate message has stayed the same.
“We’re just looking at it that we were already sharing this message of how good jump-rope fitness could be,” Hunt said. “And then it feels like coronavirus just put a megaphone up to our mouth.”