A Jackson fitness instructor has leaped into the world of book publishing to help others Bounce Back from weight gain.
Valerie Grace has published a book called Bounce Back Jumping that is designed to help readers adopt a healthy lifestyle while jumping rope.
Grace, 54, is a Memphis native who grew up jumping rope and playing kickball. She later became a swirler and played clarinet in her junior high band.
While attending Provine High School, she excelled in math and science. Grace was heavily involved in school clubs, such as the math club, all city band, National Honors Society, the Mayor’s Youth Council, Beauty and Beaux, and she was homecoming queen her senior year.
One of her all-time favorite memories was being a member of the Mississippi Lion’s Band when they competed against other all city bands and won.
Grace is the third child of three. Her older brother and sister both played in the band. While her sister played clarinet, her brother played saxophone and wrote music. He taught her to play clarinet when she was in fifth grade. That’s what helped her excel in music beyond some of her peers. With music scholarships, Grace wanted to major in music during college.
Although that was her dream, her mom – a nurse – influenced her to pursue a medical career. She attended Jackson State University, played in the band and majored in biology. She then attended Mississippi College for nursing school.
She struggled because she was no longer in band and had no way of expressing herself. As the semester continued, her grades dropped, so she decided to attend summer school.
That summer, she was hired by All State Insurance Company. Because she started making career money, she never finished school and stayed with the insurance company for 11 years.
While working in inventory, she met her first husband. They exchanged numbers, dated, and later married and had a daughter.
Five years later, they divorced. When her daughter turned 6, Grace remarried. She had met her second husband in high school because he played in the band with her brother. She was in the 10th grade while he was in the seventh.
He often joked about her being his girlfriend, and little did she know, he would be her husband 13 years later. He proposed in a unique way. They were in the car together, and he said, “You ready to do it,” and that was it.
This year, they decided to redo their proposal and renew their vows. The plan is to go all out for their 25th wedding anniversary.
Grace’s goal when she was younger was to have three kids by the age of 30. But by 30, she only had one child. At 31, she became pregnant with baby number two. The third child was born 10 years later at 41.
Grace had reached nearly 200 pounds from pregnancy. She was not very tall, so she decided she had to find a way to lose weight.
Running wasn’t working. Her hair started thinning, her thyroid was “out of whack,”and she had an injured knee. Doctors said she couldn’t run anymore, so she had to find a weight loss alternative.
The first thing that came to mind was jump-roping, which she had been doing since a child. Grace was tagged on social media to join a jump rope challenge. This lead her to lose 32 pounds in four months.
Ten minutes of jump roping is like running 30 minutes on the treadmill. In past years, she would run 13 miles just to keep the weight off, which injured her knees. Her next mission was to learn to do tricks while jump-roping.
A friend of hers later contacted her to teach lessons at her gym. She accepted the offer and took another job at a gym owned by her former classmate. This would be the start of her business, Bounce Back Jumping. Grace created a boxing high-intensity interval class that incorporated jump rope. This full body workout is one of her most successful classes.
Today, she teaches jump rope, boxing, step aerobics, and accelerated HIIT classes. What makes her business unique is her clients jump rope, skip, and hop to music. It’s almost like dancing.
“You don’t know you’re tired until you stop,” said Grace.
The philosophy is you can Bounce Back (while) Jumping. Something so simple can yield major results.
Grace decided to write a book about her success story as inspiration.
Her husband Edward Grace, 49, also helps train clients about jumping rope techniques using weighted ropes. He has even taken some of his wife’s classes.
“She is such an inspiration and helped me believe in myself,” he said. “By taking her classes, I have lost an incredible amount of weight.”
The important thing to remember is to do what is best for you because everyone’s body is different, Valerie Grace said.
“Believe in yourself,” she writes in the book. “No matter how many times you fall down, there’s always time to Bounce Back Jumping.”
Grace’s final piece of advice is, “Never give up on being fit no matter what age. Take one day at a time. Take small goals and accomplish them.”
For more information about Grace or her book, visit her Facebook page.