5 Star Story: Memphis 40+ Double Dutch Club
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - You might have seen it for yourself last May when hundreds of women over the age of 40 from all over the country brought “double dutch” to Downtown Memphis in what was dubbed a Beale Street Takeover.
They were getting “down, down, baby” — bringing back childhood memories for a lot of us!
So, we “jumped” at the chance to share their joy in this 5 Star Story highlighting the Memphis 40+ Double Dutch Club.
”Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, we’re over 40 and we’re trying to stay fit...” is how a song created by the 40+ Double Dutch Club begins.
And it’s only fitting for the group of women stretching out while preparing to leave all their cares behind and take a trip down memory lane at the Hickory Hill Community Center.
50-year-old Jeanine Jones, a Chicago native living in Memphis, is captain of the Memphis 40+ Double Dutch sub-Club.
She started the sub-club more than a year ago after attending a meet-up with another 40+ DDC sub-club held in Olive Branch, Mississippi.
“And what I found out was, most of the jumpers that were local lived in Memphis, and so I talked to the ladies and was like, ‘You’re from Memphis? You’re from Memphis? Oh, we can do this in Memphis,’” Jones explained.
Now twice a week, dozens of women meet to play a game of their youth using two long jump ropes turning in opposite directions while one or more jumpers keep up!
65-year-old Tywania Bernard joined up about two months ago.
“Well, I saw the news about them on the Beale Street Takeover and I was like, ‘That looks like it oughta be fun, you know, bring back childhood memories,‘” Bernard detailed.
That Beale Street Takeover in May, along with a tribute to Tyre Nichols earlier this year that brought hundreds of women from across the country to Memphis, was the brainchild of another Chicago native, 48-year-old 40+ DDC Regional Delegate Selena Cook, who now lives in Batesville, Mississippi.
“It’s really a ministry, it’s women over 40 reliving childhood memories through double dutch,” described Cook.
The 40+ Double Dutch Club was actually born in Chicago seven years ago out of a need for co-founder Pamela Johnson to find a “happy place.” According to Johnson, “In Chicagoland, we only had like a three-month window of great weather, so every day during the summer, we were outside playing double dutch until the street lights came on.”
“When I was in my 40s and going through a difficult period, I thought back to those days of growing jumping rope and the carefree feelings you get just from playing outside with your friends,” Johnson added, “and I went to my friend Catrina and said, ‘This is what I need to do. This is what I need in my life.’”
According to Johnson, as well as her friend and DDC co-founder Catrina Dyer-Taylor, there was never a plan to grow the group. But, there appeared to be a lot of women who apparently needed the same type of therapy and word spread.
“Our Facebook group page has over 50,000 members,” Dyer-Taylor said. “Our Instagram has over 100,000 members. We’re in over 100 major cities and we are in Canada, Israel and Germany, and we continue to grow. We have a number of ladies who are reaching out to us daily.”
But, if you think this is only about women over 40 getting together to jump rope, you’d be missing the most important aspect of these gatherings.
As Cook put it, “We double dutch, we hula hoop, we hopscotch, we twee-lee-lee, we just love on each other ‘cuz, as women, we wear so many hats, and this is just a time for you to get away, and just relax and enjoy yourself.”
While Bernard explained, “It gives you all that good energy, and it just makes you feel good, even if you have ailments or pains, you forget about all the pain because you’re having fun jumping and just releasing all that positive energy.”
And if you’re a novice at double dutch, Jones said, “We take all levels, as long as you’re a woman over 40 and up. So, you don’t have to know how to jump or turn, we will make sure that you jump before you leave.”
Which is exactly what happened to this reporter, who, despite double dutching for the first time in my life, even I felt the love, the sisterhood and the joy while with the group.
The parting message the cofounders hope all 40+ Double Dutch Club members know is, “There is joy to still be had, no matter what you’re going through, there is something you can do that is going to make you feel good again, even if it’s only for an hour,” said Johnson.
Dyer-Taylor added, “The energy, the camaraderie, like you said, there’s something for everybody to do, whether you’re just out there to receive a hug or a smile.”
The 40+ Double Dutch Club makes Memphis women proud to be a part of the team, just as the double dutch song states, “From the suburbs to the city, jumping all through the line with my double dutch team!”
Appropriately, the parting gift for new participants is a bag of Epsom salt and bubble bath, which I admit came in handy later that night.
If you’re interested in joining or starting a 40+ Double Dutch Club in your area, or you just want to learn more about the group, you can follow the group on Instagram, Facebook or click on this link.
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