Week 29: HulaFit

Recently I was having dinner with a friend who has absolutely no interest in fitness. She told me she’d seen something I might enjoy: hula hoop classes. “Brilliant!”, I said, “do you want to come with me?” Her response… “don’t be ridiculous”.

I looked into it, and there are indeed regular hula sessions all over London. Most operate from community halls and I found which goes out into a park on sunny days. It being the sunniest summer I can remember, it didn’t take long until an opportune day presented itself. I got on the phone to my sister Phoebs at the crack of dawn “are you doing anything tonight? Great! We’re going hula hooping!”

What They Say:

We’ve got the hoops, you’ve got the hips! We’ll break out the mega bass and beats and you bring your dancin’ feet. Together we’ll get fit, fit, fit!

Hooping is known to be a fantastic way to tone that troublesome tummy area, but there are many other benefits that can be gained from spinning the humble hoop, namely improved strength, coordination and calorie burning as well as the undeniable enjoyment factor!  At a HulaFit® class, the most important thing we hope you achieve is quite simply, a lot of fun!  Some people come for an intense abdominal and cardio workout, some come for the first time just hoping to learn how to keep a hoop spinning around their hips, and others because they want to add an alternative to their regular fitness programme.  Primarily, however, we hope you leave feeling positive, happy and like you had good time on top of doing a great workout!  It is an undeniable truth that how you feel on the inside affects how you feel on the outside, so we hope your mind will focus on the fun as we help your body focus on the fit.  We love hooping, and we hope that after a HulaFit® class you will be left feeling lighter in both step and spirit, which is a great place to start (or continue) the journey towards long-term success of a happy and healthy mind and body!

My Experience:

HulaFit runs weekly classes at four sites across London. I opted for the class near King’s Cross which is normally run from a hall, but goes outside when it’s sunny. Hooray, outdoor fitness is always a winner!

It was a glorious sunny day and I took the opportunity to take in some of the wonderful things about London in summertime en route. Firstly, I stopped off at the beach at Southbank. If you haven’t sat down there, do it! It’s basically a big sandpit right on the edge of the river. The sand is white and fine, and for some reason not many people seem to use it. I whipped my shoes off and sat reading in the sunshine and watching the world go by. When the time came to head to King’s Cross, I strolled across Waterloo bridge (that view will never get old) and then hopped on a bus and sat right at the front on the top deck. Getting the bus around London feels like being a tourist; as we cruised past the many public parks, I peered over the hedges and it was joyous to see how well used they are – people eating picnics, sunbathing, reading and just generally chilling out, sheltered by a bit of greenery from the busy surrounding streets.

My sister and I went for a drink before the evening class. My choice – boring water. Phoebs opted for a Bloody Mary… strong pre-workout game.

The small park was pretty busy – there were kids playing basketball and a gaggle of teens on the swings, a couple of guys sat strumming guitars and then there was a ginormous pile of hula hoops. YES.

A few minutes before the class was due to start we strolled over and were quickly surrounded by about 20 other girls who each picked up a weighted hoop. I picked one up, gave it a swing and hooray, it kept swinging! As we had a little practise, a young guy sauntered over and said he’d been dared by his mates to join in… he picked up a hoop, gave it a swing and it immediately plopped to the floor. A couple more tries… nope. He sheepishly sauntered off just as our instructor called us together to introduce herself. If you had to come up with the perfect name for a hula instructor, it’s hers: Shakira. Hips don’t lie and neither do I. She welcomed newcomers, cranked some tunes on her portable stereo and we quickly got to swinging.

A few minutes in and I was quite happy with how things were going… Shakira called out instructions, all while swinging the hoop. This felt like a pretty good ab-buster, I could swing the hoop both directions no problemo, walk round in circles – sure, good times. Then all of a sudden the instructions got a teeny bit more complicated … like “stand on one leg” and a I felt like I was doing that thing where you rub your tummy and pat your head. Chaos. How can it be so hard to stand on one leg while huling?! Seriously! Fortunately I wasn’t the only one struggling and there was lots of laughter as hoops flew to ankles. Next we moved onto a series of squats and lunges whilst hooping – it was not an elegant display and I quickly realised this was actually becoming a pretty good whole body workout! We took a quick break from spinning and did more squats and rotations whilst pressing the hoop overhead, before going back to some more spinning – this time while twerking and doing the jumping limbo. Yep, a group of girls awkwardly twerking in the park whilst spinning hoops. It was hilarious. No-one took themselves too seriously and everyone was just having a crack and having a laugh. We then moved on to some hand and arm spins with lighter hoops. I realised the reason for the change when I promptly smacked myself in the nose trying to switch arms. Hoops were flying everywhere, with cries of “oops! sorry!” as they clattered at others’ feet. It was fun, and when things clicked it was super satisfying!

We finished off with another round of weighted hoop spinning before a stretch and cool down.

This was so much fun! Shakira provided the perfect mix of enthusiasm, encouragement, teaching and laid back vibes. I reckon if you went to this class a few times, you’d quickly learn some tricks and it really was a good workout. Abs aside, keeping your arms held above waist height for the whole class is no mean feat.

As we strolled off in the late evening sunshine I felt happy, nicely tired and like I’d spent a day playing on the beach… I still had a little sand on my shins too.

In Summary:

I wholeheartedly agree that this is one of the “funnest workouts going”. It felt like being a kid again whilst getting abs of steel and having a laugh, all outdoors in the evening sunshine. What’s not to love? Phoebs and I have already decided we’re taking a hoop on our family hols this summer to practise some tricks!

Where: Kennington, Westbourne Grove, King’s Cross and Hackney.

Cost: £6 per session

How to book: http://www.hulafit.com

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