Peter Nestler completed his recent homecoming tour of Juneau by unofficially breaking two Guinness World Records, one of them twice. He initially broke the record for the most jump rope skips while juggling a soccer ball with 104 skips over the course of one minute. His success came during a show this past Wednesday night, but he bested himself on Thursday with a record of 126 skips.
The previous week he broke the record for most bum skips in 30 seconds with a total of 93. A bum skip is performed when a person is sitting on the ground with their legs outstretched and then lifts their body up in a jumping motion, all the while swinging the rope in a circular movement underneath.
Nestler started jump roping in the third grade at Glacier Valley Elementary school. Throughout the years he went on with his school team to win seven world jump roping championships. Several months out of high school Nestler was able to go into business as a professional jump roper; he is now going into his 12th year.
The idea to break a Guinness World Record came a few years ago after Nestler read about a girl who had completed the most jump rope skips on a unicycle. Given that Nestler spends 10 to 11 months a year on the road doing jump rope and unicycle demonstrations, it seems only natural that he thought “I could beat that one.” And on Feb. 20 he did, jumping 237 times in one minute while skipping rope on his unicycle.
But he didn’t stop there. When Nestler was first looking into the process of setting a world record, he determined that there were 11 previously set jump roping records that he thought he could beat. His goal is to complete all of them before the beginning of the new year. He attempted to set a fourth record while in Juneau, the fastest time for jump roping a mile on one foot, but fell short.
“I got to three quarters of a mile and I missed,” Nestler said. “The way the record is set your other foot can’t touch the ground at all for the whole mile. So the way I missed, I guess it was just out of instinct, my foot dropped.”
Because of the stress of hopping on one foot, Nestler decided to hold off a bit until he tries again.
Nestler trains specifically for each record he is attempting to break for one to three hours a day. Each record poses its own set of challenges. For his attempt at breaking the record for most skips underwater, Nestler has been working on creating a rope that won’t bend at the handles from the water pressure. He thinks he finally came up with a winning design that will stop knocking him in the back of the head, but is waiting for Guinness’ approval.
Because he does performances for a living, Nestler always has to stay in shape. He places a lot of emphasis on cross-training — performing multiple times a day isn’t enough. Nestler’s hard work and dedication come across during his performances at school assemblies. He wants to motivate and inspire the kids who see him perform, not just with his demonstrations, but also with the story of how he got where he is today.
“A lot of times, especially when you look at somebody that’s really good at something, you kind of get this impression in your head, realistically or not, you always tend to think, they’ve always been good at this,” he said. “I talk about when I started, I wasn’t really that good. I wasn’t good enough to make it on a jump rope team when I started. I wasn’t good enough to do all of these different things. So one of the things I really try to focus on is trying to help them to understand that to be good at something, it does take a lot of work. It does take a lot of practice. A lot of them go out and try something once and think ‘I’m not going to be good at this.’ You might not be right now, but you could be. So that’s what I like to focus on and help them see …. you see that light turn on with some of the kids.”
After breaking a few world records and visiting family, Nestler left Juneau on Friday to continue traveling and performing with his wife, who now jumps with him in the shows.
“I’ve always kind of said, as I long as I still enjoy doing it, I’ll keep at it. And obviously with my body, as long as I can still physically do it as well. Right now I still love it. I love the travel, I love doing the performances, I love hanging out with kids and performing. If I ever get to the point where I’m dreading to wake up...that will probably be the time to change careers.”
You can read more about Nestler at jumprm.com.
• Lauren Brooks is a nursing student and a freelance writer from Juneau. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.