Well Rounded Hoops in thespec.com


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Amy Kenny June 5, 2012 Are you looking for a hardcore workout? Maybe you want to re-live your childhood? Either way, hula-hooping could be the answer to your prayers. That’s right - the 1950s favourite has enjoyed a revival as fitness instructors from coast to coast have adapted the backyard pastime for gyms and studio spaces. It sounds like it goes against the adage, no pain, no gain, but what seems too good to be true…might not be. A study by the American Council on Exercise found hooping to be on par with boot camp. It raises the heart rate significantly and burns an average of 210 calories per half hour – that’s more than pilates, power yoga or nia. You don’t have to tell that to Mandy Harvey, 35. She had always been a dedicated attendee of aerobics classes, but when she signed up for a weekly hooping class in 2008, she was shocked by the intensity of the workout. In 2011, four months after becoming an instructor at Toronto’s Well-Rounded Hoops, Harvey realized she’d lost 25 pounds. “The only change was adding that one extra class,” she says. Hamilton’s Lori-Lynn, owner of Hoop Appeal (a Hamilton-based company that offers classes and workshops across Canada), had a similar experience. A former gymnast nursing various injuries, she turned to hooping six years ago when activities like Zumba and kick-boxing proved too strenuous. After only a month, she’d lost 20 pounds and her shape had shifted from round to hourglass. Best of all? “It feels like you’re hanging out with friends,” says Lynn, 51. “It’s a community social-type of fitness,” Harvey agrees. “Because it’s fun, time flies really quickly in class. You don’t have the tendency to watch the clock.” Accessibility is another reason people keep coming back. Both Lynn and Harvey say their classes are diverse, attracting male and female hoopers ranging in age from 20 to 70. With high, low and moderate-impact classes, you can pick the level that works for you, just like you can pick the perfect hoop. According to Lynn, the circle you spin makes a world of difference. Lots of first-timers think they won’t be able to participate because they could never keep a kids hoop up. Lisa Hagan was one of them. Before she took Lynn’s class in 2008, her hooping experience consisted of eighth grade gym class. She remembers her teacher telling her to move her hips left and right to keep the hoop up – a technique that, as an adult, she learned was incorrect. When Lynn taught her to shift her weight back and forth rather than side to side, Hagan’s inner child cheered. “I just thought, ‘oh my God I can do this!’” she says. “If you could see me now, teach!” Using a wider adult hoop helps too. Made of heavy-duty irrigation tubing (and often embellished with colourful, sparkly tape), they’re much easier to hula than their lightweight toy-store counterparts. An adult hoop measures up to 42 inches in diameter and weighs anywhere from 1-4 pounds. This size makes the hoop easier to keep up while simultaneously toning your core by forcing you to hold isometric contractions. “It doesn’t give you abs of steel,” Hagan says. “But it certainly tightens that middle up because that’s what makes the hoop move.” Once you’ve got simple circles down, you can expand your skill set to include tricks like arm hooping, leg hooping and swirling multiple hoops at once. From there, it’s easy to create involved routines that engage mind as well as body by incorporating elements of control and concentration. Another upside of the sport? You can do it anywhere. Hoopers in Vancouver and California, where year-round warm weather means hooping is hyper-popular, hone their craft in streets, parks and public spaces like night clubs. Folding hoops allow you to take them on the road without packing an extra suitcase – a feature that makes it easy for instructors like Harvey to host outdoor jams (she gets up to 80 participants in Toronto parks) where she lends new hoopers the tools of the trade. Though Hamilton lags a little behind Toronto in terms of hooping outlets, it got a boost on May 31 when Lynn started offering classes at the Burlington Fitness and Racquetball Club. akenny@thespec.com 905-526-2487

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