For me, it was early last year, during one of my many attempts to lose weight. I had joined a gym called Box-2B-Fit, and attended their early morning “boot camp” class. It was an intense workout bordering on brutal, and got increasingly harder. I was almost always the biggest one in the class, of course, but the instructors were great.

At $100 a month, the cost made it easy for me to decide to drop out. I still have the boxing gloves – red ones, emblazoned with the flag of Mexico. (Because they were good quality and on the clearance rack, that’s why.)

We ran – I wogged, which may or may not be a word, but it was a sort of walk-jog — threw tires and chased after them, did all manner of heinous calisthenics with medicine balls and pounded punching bags. It was awful.

Man, I miss that place.

Maybe I’ll find my way back there one day, but the First Lady reminded me how we’d start every session with jumping rope for what seemed like forever. In today’s USA Today, there’s a photo of Michelle Obama jumping rope, part of her initiative to end childhood obesity.

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What an excellent, cheap form of exercise. But that wasn’t what I was thinking last year while skipping rope at the boxing gym. No, my thoughts while struggling to maintain a rhythm tended to be more . . . murderous.

The point is, you don’t need a $100/month gym membership, or even a $30/month membership, which is what I gladly pay at my gym, because it is an investment in moi. And you really don’t need to pay for a personal trainer. Calisthenics, sit ups and push ups are free, as is walking, jogging or even wogging.

And jump ropes? A quick search on Bizrate.com shows a range from less than $2 for a Winnie-the-Pooh rope to — **gasp** — more than $400 for something called a digital jump rope.

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Now I want a jump rope. Seriously. Despite all my (silent) cursing, it was a fast, efficient way to get my heart rate up, and that burns fat.

But as much as I love Pooh, I think I’ll go for something in the $5 range.

All the girls in France
Do the Hula Hula dance
And they don't wear pants
When they do the Hula dance.
~  Jump rope rhyme

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Leslie J. Ansley is an award-winning journalist and entrepreneur who blogs daily for TheRoot. She lives in Raleigh, NC.