As kids we all had a hula hoop and the simple pleasure this brightly coloured circle of plastic brought us still sticks with us today as adults, bubbling to the surface of our memory when we spot one.
So that, before long, we just can’t resist popping it over their heads and taking it for a spin!
But now you have the perfect excuse to relive this joyous childhood pastime whenever you want – introducing HulaFit.
Yes, there is now an exercise class you can take that has been designed to give you a full-body workout while using a hula hoop.
Some of you may scoff at the idea, but ‘hooping’ – as people in the know call it – is claimed to be a great way to tone your tummy, improve your strength and coordination and burn calories.
But what better way to find out what HulaFit is all about than to go along and take a class?
They’ve got the hoops, you’ve got the hips…
I took part in an hour-long class at The London Fields Fitness Studio in Hackney and our instructor for the evening was Shakira.
There were roughly 15 of us in the class and soon that childhood instinct kicked in and we all eagerly reached for a hoop.These aren’t the sort you bought from Woolworths back in the day though. These hoops are much larger and heavier (around 40 inches in diameter and anything from 700g to 1kg). In fact, the heavier the hoop, the easier it is to get started. Plus, it adds greater resistance for an even more intense abs workout.
Already the sound of giggling and the clatter of hoops to the floor was filling the air as we each found a spot a safe distance from the person next to us!
We started with a warm up, hoops on the floor as we stretched out in preparation to pop the hoops over our heads and get spinning.
Even those who hadn’t hooped since primary school soon got the hang of it. Shakira had an easy way to explain the technique to us – hold the hoop round your waist with one foot forward, give the hoop a big spin, then rock yourself backwards and forwards. Simple.
First we got the easy stuff out of the way, learning how to stand still, one foot forward, and spin the hoop one way, then the other.
Next, we tried to stand with our feet together and slowly raise our hands above our heads – a move called the bean poll.This is great for toning the tummy as all you are using to keep the hoop in motion is your middle. Meaning you engage your core more.
Then we tried walking round in a circle while hooping.
Of course throughout this there were hoops clattering to the floor all around, but everyone was so friendly, encouraging each other on, laughing and cheering.
Now familiar with our hoops the tempo stepped up a notch and, holding onto the hoop round our waist we did high knees, scissor jumps and lunges, before holding it above our heads to perform jumping jacks.
Then it was back to spinning it round our waist so we could try squatting while hooping, before letting the hoop drop to our hips and thrusting hard so we could get a cheeky booty workout out in too!
I wasn’t sure how much of a workout you could get from hula hooping but by the end of it I was panting and sweating.
So, although this form of exercise won’t build muscle, it will certainly burn fat and help with toning.
Next we got out the smaller ‘classic’ hoops and Shakira showed us some hooping tricks which resulted in us all, at some point, running after a hoop as it rolled wildly across the studio!!We tried the art of spinning a hoop on our elbow, then above our head before letting it travel down our body and onto the waist, which I could not get the hang of!
The class had a lovely, fun atmosphere with everyone encouraging each other on and it went super quick.
If you want a simple, fun way to spend an hour, and know you will come away smiling because you’ve had a laugh and worked out, then HulaFit is for you.
Who would have thought that the humble hula hoop could leave you feeling so happy and healthy!
Classes are held across London throughout the week and cost between £5-7 per session. For more information, visit hulafit.com
Until next time, stay happy and healthy…