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[whitespace] Hop Scotch Chic: Kim Corbin skips and the world follows.


Child's Play

Forget spinning, the hottest way to exercise is ... skipping!

By Dara Colwell

Kim Corbin had a simple idea back in May 1999--skip and the world shall follow. An avid skipper and founder of iskip.com, Corbin decided to turn her heels on her publicist job and spread the gospel of skipping, on pavement, patches of grass and via the Internet. Corbin has attracted free-spirited latent skippers, reformed joggers and curious onlookers. It's a calorie-burning, uplifting movement, she says, one that puts a spring in her step. And in San Francisco, Corbin has found the perfect city to get her idea off the ground (avoiding the hills, of course).

Where did you get the idea?

I skipped for the first time as an adult two years ago. I was out with a couple of friends and this guy said, "Let's skip." It completely resonated with me. I instantly started thinking it's great exercise. I joked around and talked a lot about doing it, then this summer I really wanted to get fit so I committed to it. Initially, I decided to start running because my friends were runners and they always talked about the runner's high--I'm always looking for a good high. [Laughs.] Can you take that off the record!

So I went running one morning and made it maybe three blocks, absolutely dying and frustrated, and I thought, "How am I ever going to make it?" I talked to a co-worker and she told me, coincidentally, that her daughter had grabbed her hand that morning and said, "Mommy, let's skip!" And she said, "Honey, adults don't skip." When she said that I thought, "I'll skip for exercise! And I'll make it my project and make a website; that way it will hold me accountable to do it."

When was your first skip?

I think the first organized skip was in Golden Gate Park. It was relatively small. Then the Chronicle did its story and the first happy-hour skip was the next day. I had no idea what to expect. There were about 50 people of all ages--grandmothers who said they had been closet skippers for years, athletic people, men, women, even CNN news. It was more than I ever expected. After that, we started doing regular skips in the park.

What are you trying to say with this; is there a message?

Lately I've been thinking about random acts of playfulness, any kind of positive energy we put into the world. Finding ways to have good old-fashioned fun, let go of our adult worries and be in the moment--I think that would be the overall message. Skipping is something positive to grab onto; that's what's most appealing. Because I took action on something I felt positive about, it gave it life and made it real.

Is skipping an offshoot of your personality?

When I was in high school my teachers used to tell me that my exuberance occasionally overtook my control. [Laughs.] I'm really positive and I like to encourage other people to be positive, to be able to light other people up. And skipping is just the perfect way to do that.

Who actually skips along?

It really varies. The groups are small, usually 10 to 15 people. The biggest demographic has been heterosexual males, but there are so many facets to it. Skippers come in all shapes and sizes.

Has your website helped generate interest?

If it wasn't for the Internet this never would have happened. You may have the most bizarre idea but there's a good chance there are a lot of other people out there who feel the same way. Almost every type of media I've done, people have approached me. Either they've heard about me from a friend or ran across the website. I did one publicity push, but it makes it too "dot com-ish." Everyone in the dot-com world is trying to figure out how to make money, so when people see that it kind of turns them off. This is really a grass-roots movement. Interest started spreading nationally after the CNN coverage ran. I started getting emails from all over the world--there's a guy in Sri Lanka who writes to me and skips there. It's been a trip. I always envisioned this as a movement and that people in other cities could do what I was doing here. There's a head skipper in Chicago, Los Angeles, and we did a multi-city skip in October in Austin, Chicago, Champaign, Ill., Charlotte, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

What's your route?

We start from Justin Herman Plaza and head up Market to the island at Battery and Market. We call it Skipper Island. We have a megaphone and shout "this is a skipping zone!" Usually 70 percent of the people watching will skip. We call it positive harassment. Then we go up to Bush Street and cut over to the Irish Bank, set up a table and have a more traditional happy hour. At Golden Gate Park we start at Fifth and JFK and skip in a big circle around the roller bladers, then we head up to the flower conservatory and then over to hippie hill and skip around the drumming circle.

What kind of reactions do you get when people see a group of you skipping along?

It varies--mostly smiles or looks of disbelief. Sometimes people really can't deal with the fact that we're skipping down the street. I think if people are negative or unhappy when they see us, they growl. I want to make it clear that I don't skip everywhere I go. I definitely skip a few steps every day--a skip a day keeps the doctor away! From the very beginning I wanted to position skipping as something that's just for fun. You can skip a block and walk a block, you can skip in the grocery store for shock value. That's actually one of my favorite places to skip. I'll skip down the aisle then go back to my business. I think what's so shocking about it is that it's something that adults just don't do. Skipping is a perfect way to take your spirit for a test drive, get back to that core of who you are.

Any last words?

When you skip, it's joy-based. It's light and bouncy. You can't help but be in the moment. But this movement is really not about skipping, it's about figuring out whatever you loved to do as a kid, and doing it .


For future skipping details, click onto www.iskip.com.

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From the February 21, 2000 issue of the Metropolitan.

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