I Quit My Job to Become a Competitive Skydiver

Even after more than a decade of diving, I still feel a rush of adrenaline during every single jump.

JaNette Lefkowitz
Photo: Courtesy JaNette Lefkowitz/Getty

I realized seconds into the free fall of my first tandem dive — way back in November 2001 — that this was a feeling I had to keep chasing. So 12 years ago, I quit my consulting job to skydive competitively.

Seriously, it's a legit sport that dates back to around 1930 in Russia, when jumpers aimed to land as close to a target on the ground as possible. Today, there are seven different competition disciplines, and formation skydiving — the style I often do — is scored based on the the number of formations or patterns we can repeatedly perform in a certain number of seconds, all while free falling.

In the years since, I've won gold at the 2016 World Parachuting Championships, and in 2019, my team SDC Rhythm XP has placed first in the United States' Parachute Association's Nationals four-way competition. But skydiving isn't just a sport to me.

Skydiving is actually an art, too. To me, the sky is a medium, and you can race in it or do something artistic in it. In team competitions, you have 35 seconds from the moment you jump to complete a series of five or six formations as many times as you can. It's like a dance in midair. (

JaNette Lefkowitz skydiving
Courtesy JaNette Lefkowitz

And it still gives me a hit of adrenaline, even after 11,000 jumps. It becomes a physical challenge as you manipulate the air and your body while "belly flying" at 120 miles an hour. And since the actual jump lasts just seconds, training with fast-burst movement is really helpful. I do a lot of Insanity and HIIT workouts — that, and I work on my flexibility so I can fit into any position.

But skydiving has challenged me mentally as well. We can all do amazing, mind-blowing things. That's what skydiving has taught me. It's about figuring out your goal, breaking it into pieces, and getting better with every jump.

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