Megan Johnson McCullough — The jumping jack is one of my favorite cardiovascular activities because every BODY can do it. Be it a step touch motion or high impact with weights, the jumping jack elevates the heart rate and works your total body. I’m sure each of us had done countless repetitions of them dating back to pre- school days. So where did this movement even come from??
Credit is given to General John J. Pershing, who was a military leader. He was a successful leader and, “Pershing led the American Expeditionary Forces during World War I. It was a monumental task, for Pershing had to organize, train, and equip an army of 4 million men almost from scratch, then lead it into battle on the other side of the planet” (http://www.neatorama.com/2014/05/02/The-Jumping-Jack-Is-Named-after-Its-Inventor-General-Black-Jack-Pershing/). The only other person besides Pershing to serve as General of the Armies was George Washington, so Pershing is well known in our American history. His nick name was “Black Jack” because he defended and was accepting of his black troops.
But the story of the jumping jack is actually not positive….
While at West Point, Pershing was given the task to haze a fellow student, Charles D. Rhodes. The intention was to punish Rhodes will making him fitter. The story goes like this, “He would line up a group of plebes, order them to count off to identify odds and evens, and when he pulled on an imaginary string, all the odds threw their arms stiffly out at right angles to their bodies; then Jack pulled the string in the opposite direction, and the odds dropped their arms and evens jumped their legs out to make a V. Back and forth went the string, arms flapped, legs splayed, while upperclassmen howled at the marionettes in action” (https://physicalculturestudy.com/2015/02/23/the-history-of-the-jumping-jack/).
This exercise continued to be used in the military for physical improvement purposes as well as a hazing tactic. Then in the 1950s, fitness phenom, Jack LaLanne brought the jumping jack to the public. When I picked this Blog topic, it was because I love the adaptability of the exercise to meet all clients’ needs. Little did I know what I would find. So hop up and give me 100 jumping jacks right now!!!!!
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