While most students were having fun in the sun or relaxing on spring break, Sella Rega ’19 was training to break the Guinness World Record for most skips over a rope in 24 hours. The 23-year-old Vaughn College graduate tells her story of how she decided on the Vaughn airport management degree program and how her passion for fitness led her to breaking not one―but three―Guinness World Records last March.
Where it all began
Raised in Woodstock, New York, Rega grew up with two passions: fitness and aviation. Little did she know back then of how the two would come together. Throughout high school, Rega was active in sports but it wasn’t until after graduation that she pumped up her passion for fitness by taking the Les Mills BODYPUMP and BODYCOMBAT fitness classes. Candida Ellis, one of the instructors, was instrumental in igniting Rega’s interest in group fitness. “Candida encouraged me to sign up for a 10-week self-defense course taught by herself and the boxing trainer,” Rega explained. “It was there where I met my future boxing and jump rope coach, Chukie Ace.”
The challenge that started it all
In 2016, Rega was well on her way to earning her bachelor’s degree in mathematics from SUNY New Paltz. She was also honing her skills in boxing, where she learned “double-under” jumps, which are done during boxing warm-ups. One day, a friend of hers who had been training to break the Guinness World Record on the boxing speed bag was sick with the flu. Rega cheered him on and challenged him to work through it. “I wanted him to break the record so badly,” said Rega. “I told him if he breaks the record for the speed bag, then I would train to break the rope record.” The mutual respect for each other’s passion paid off as her friend broke the record. “He didn’t waste any time when he challenged me to jump for one hour straight,” Rega said fondly. “The rest, you can say, is history.”
Training for the record
Rega trained for two years to break the Guinness World Record. During the first year in 2017, she trained every chance she could. She would jump in between classes and at the gym every Friday after school. “I would jump while listening to music,” Rega explained. “I was not only focused on increasing my time, but on my form, endurance and mental conditioning.” She upped her game during the second year of training in 2018 when she jumped in her basement anywhere from eight to 20 hours in one session. “It became pretty intense,” Rega said. “I had to be sure to stay hydrated and maintain the right diet to get me through the training sessions.
Rega believes training mentally is just as important as training physically. When asked how she mentally prepared for breaking the record, she said it was all about visualization. “Looking back, I realize visualizing myself breaking the record was the greatest motivator of all,” Rega reflected. “Imagining how I would feel and what it would all be like helped me push through the training—even on the hardest days.”
Through it all, Rega said a significant part of her training resulted when she herself became a certified Les Mills BODYPUMP instructor. “Becoming an instructor was a crucial part of my physical training and a huge part of who I am today,” she said. “I believe the confidence and experience I’ve gained through teaching―combined with my passion for aviation―will be a winning combination for my future.”
Keeping an eye on her career
Life wasn’t all about breaking the record. After graduating from SUNY New Paltz with a bachelor of science degree in mathematics, Rega knew she needed to fulfill her passion for aviation. “My dream was to someday be an air traffic controller,” said Rega. “I just wasn’t sure how to make it happen.”
After doing some research, Rega discovered that Vaughn College offered a fast-track program for degree-holding students who wanted to further their education. Over two hours away, Rega knew it would be a challenge making it happen. “My life is about embracing a challenge,” Rega said. “Making this happen was an even greater one for me.” In fall 2018, she enrolled in the airport management program at Vaughn. For one year, she commuted twice a week to the College and stayed with family members who lived nearby. On the days when she wasn’t at school, Rega trained every chance she could to prepare for breaking the record.
The day Rega broke the record
Rega chose the week of spring break to attempt the challenge of breaking the Guinness World Record. Her high school in upstate New York was hosting the challenge. “I couldn’t have asked for a more nostalgic place to go for the record than my old high school gymnasium,” said Rega. The morning of March 29, 2019, she slept until noon and immediately began consuming calories for the big day.
There are several requirements that must be met before any attempt at breaking the record is made. Two witnesses must always be present. Rega said she had about 16 witnesses there who worked in two to four-hour shifts around the clock. There’s also a strict evidence protocol that always requires four cameras to be focused on the subject.
Rega began jumping promptly at 4 p.m. with groups of friends, family, fans and her coach, Ace, cheering her on into the night. By 2 a.m., Rega said she started to feel mentally fatigued, knowing she had already jumped for 10 hours and still had more than halfway to go. Aside from breaking the record, Rega said the most exciting time for her was at 3:50 a.m., when one of her friends screamed out, “Guess who just reached 100,000 jumps?” “It was at that moment that I knew I was going to break the record,” she remembers. At 11:54 a.m., after several breaks and blisters, Rega broke the Guinness World Record of 151,409 jumps in 19 hours and 54 minutes. She used the next four hours to set her own record of 168,394 jumps in the full 24-hour period. Little did she know at the time she also broke two other records for most skips over a rope within eight and 12 hours, setting them at 70,030 and 100,364, respectively. That’s three new Guinness World Records at one time! Way to go, Sella!
The record to beat:
|Most skips over a rope in 24 hours:||151,409|
|Most skips over a rope in 12 hours:||76,196|
|Most skips over a rope in 8 hours:||59,916|
Back to the books
Five months later, Rega graduated from Vaughn with her bachelor of science degree in airport management, along with the FAA-approved certified programs that qualified her to pursue her air traffic controller’s certification. “Graduation was bittersweet,” Rega said. “My grandma was one of my biggest fans. She witnessed me breaking the record and was alive on July 4, 2019 when I received official notification from Guinness,” Rega explained. “Sadly, she passed away in August and didn’t see me graduate, and never knew I broke the other two records.”
On October 22, 2019, Rega was notified that her records for most skips over a rope in eight and 12 hours were confirmed by Guinness. “I took this as a sign that my grandmother was watching over me that day. It just so happened to be her birthday.”
Learn more about earning a degree in aviation management from Vaughn College.