Hula hooping workouts: What goes around comes around

When someone mentioned the idea of a hula-hooping class, I thought it would be the perfect way to ease myself into a fitness regime. Like most people, the only memory I have of hula hooping is competing with my friends in the playground at primary school.

As an adult, I feel rather immature trying to keep a hoop balanced perfectly around my waist. Even without my school friends at my side, I find myself morphing back into a 10-year-old.

But, apparently, hula hoops have made a comeback from the swinging 60s. A 45-minute session is enough to keep you healthy – and leave you in fits of giggles.

Is it just for circus performers?

I arrive to find many fellow class members can perfectly balance the hoop without a single hip movement. Yet for me, there’s something rather childish about hula hooping that my brain just cannot get over.

The instructor, Joanna Bragg, decided to create the class to make fitness fun, and it does work. Every time the hoop falls to my ankles I’m left in fits of laughter.

I also learn that a hula-hooping lesson isn’t all fun and games – instead I’m greeted by a group of perfectly toned women adding a boost to their morning workout.

Does it deliver?

A hula-hooping class lasts 45 minutes, and that’s enough. The class starts steadily but soon we’re asked to squat, side step, wiggle and undertake a whole aerobics routine while spinning the hoop. It sounds simple enough, but with one slight move of the leg I find my hoop drops like a stone. The first half hour of the class has me in stitches as I try to pick up the hoop for the hundredth time. It also leaves me creasing in pain.

I’m left thoroughly exhausted as the last 15 minutes moves to the mat for the usual post-workout stretches.

What’s so good about it?

If you can master simple hula hooping then after a few lessons you will have the knack and be as good as a pro. Despite managing to balance the hoop eventually, I did struggle with the routine. Bragg explains that it’s great for anyone wanting to get into exercise. For me – someone who rarely undertakes gruelling workouts – it really worked.

It’s not a huge workout, so those used to something more upbeat may find it a little subdued, but it does work on your balance, co-ordination and heart rate. It also helps you create a lovely smooth, firm stomach.

Perfect if …

Like me, you need something more unusual to keep you interested in a fitness routine. This is a great class to take a friend to, as you’ll both be doubling up at the back of the room within minutes. If you find an aerobics class a bit too challenging, this is more fun and creative.

Is there a downside?

I found the first time to be the most painful. If you frequently drop the hoop to the floor, your ankles will be battered and bruised. My hipbones were rather delicate for a few days, too. I’ve been assured, however, that this does pass after you’ve mastered the basics.

More information

Joanna Bragg is fitness instructor at the Keepmoat Stadium, Doncaster.

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