UHD Trainer Helps Others 'Jump' Into Fitness
Jhon Ortiz Uses Jump Rope Videos to Inspire Others
By Mike Emery
Jhon Merizalde Ortiz wants to literally “jumpstart” people’s passion for fitness.
The University of Houston-Downtown Sports & Fitness trainer displays some serious jump roping skills on social media to inspire others to stay in shape during the pandemic.
In his Instagram and Facebook videos, Ortiz twirls the rope through one leg at a time, creates a makeshift lasso and performs a variety of other high energy moves. The videos, sometimes set to music, have become quite popular with his followers.
Ortiz has transformed this mode of exercise into an art, but he only picked it up last year.
“Around November 2019. I noticed two students jumping rope at UHD’s Student Life Center. I was hypnotized by their balance and coordination. I started (jumping rope) right away,” he said. “The breakthrough was actually looking at jump rope techniques on YouTube. The searches moved to Instagram, where there is a huge community of people posting their jump rope videos.”
Ortiz’s videos show him a variety of locations, gyms (where he is socially distanced and wearing a mask), parks and other places. He jumps rope blindfolded in some videos and also collaborates with other aficionados in side-by-side clips. While the videos certainly show off his skills, the goal is to inspire people to stay active, he said.
“Since Instagram helped inspire me to keep jumping rope and making videos, I wanted to inspire others to stay in shape,” he said. “Many people have reached out and told me the videos have done just that.”
Exercise has always been a part of Ortiz’s daily routine. As a child, he enjoyed riding his bike, rollerblading and skateboarding. He even started his career as a trainer at the age of 12 when he began instructing friends how to breathe properly while exercising.
He became a certified trainer while earning his bachelor’s degree in Health and Behavioral Science at UHD. He had met fellow student Leboriah Chavez, current Student Government Association Vice President, who also is a certified trainer. She encouraged him to pursue his certification and the rest is history. In fact, he was selected as one of Houston's Top Fitness Pros by the Houston Chronicle earlier this year.
Although the Student Life Center has been closed, Ortiz, Chavez and other trainers have been conducting fitness sessions and assessments through Zoom.
“The Zoom fitness sessions have been going great, but it is difficult not seeing faculty, staff and students,” he said. “It has been a learning experience doing Zoom fitness from home. Mostly, I conduct fitness assessments. I have had opportunities to meet new people and help them with any concerns that they have.”
His biggest advice for anyone wanting to stay in shape is to make exercise fun. As a trainer, he uses fitness as a motivational tool, but it’s also entertaining for both himself and his social media audiences. Whether people pick up a jump rope, ride a bike, lift weights or engage in any form of exercise, the most important thing is that they actually like exercising.
“Fitness is a hobby,” he said. “Find something you enjoy and stay with it, but also try to encourage your friends and family to exercise too. Anything that a person does with passion can help inspire others.”
The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD)—the second largest university in Houston—has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974.
As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive four-year university led by Interim President Dr. Antonio D. Tillis. Annually, UHD educates more than 15,000 students; boasts more than 51,000 alumni and offers 44 bachelor’s, nine master’s degree programs and 16 fully online programs within five colleges (Marilyn Davies College of Business; Humanities & Social Sciences; Public Service, Sciences & Technology; and University College).
UHD has the most affordable tuition among four-year universities in Houston and one of the lowest in Texas. The University is noted nationally as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, Minority-Serving Institution and Military Friendly School. For more on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit www.uhd.edu.