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Hula hooping for fitness.

Posted Jan 20 2011 3:00am

Jo Mondy is full time certified hoop dance teacher and performer based in Brighton UK. She moderates the Hoop Instructors forum at www.hooping.org and spends her spare time spinning around in circles.  I met her on Twitter, was immediately TWITsmitten & the post below is at my request.

Please to enjoy some Jo.

Hula hoops are back! And not like you remember them. Today’s hula hoops are designed for adults - larger and heavier – and can give you a full body workout, a new way to dance and a chance for you to rediscover your inner child.

I picked up the hoop four years ago on the recommendation of a friend. And man, I was terrible! I couldn’t keep it up for more than one or two spins for over an hour. I got more and more frustrated, until, suddenly, something clicked and it stopped hitting the ground. I started taking hoop classes in Sydney and quickly became obsessed, practicing for hours, watching YouTube religiously and cyberstalking all my hoop heros.

Fast forward to today. I’ve moved halfway across the world to Brighton in the UK, ditched my 9-5 job and started my own hoop business Live:Love:Hoop . I teach adults and kids classes, run kid’s parties, perform, make hoops and generally enjoy life.

The lovely MizFit herself has gotten into the spin and is training to be a certified hoop dance instructor, so she has kindly asked me to guest post on the topic. This is part 1 – stay tuned for part 2 next week!

Why hoop?

1) Get fit

Hooping gets your heart rate up fast! Waist hooping works your whole core, as well as your butt, legs and arms. You can amp up the workout factor by holding your arms straight out to the side as you waist hoop, adding another hoop on your body and by learning new tricks like jumping through the hoop. Search for hula hoop workout videos on youtube for workout inspiration like this one from HoopLovers.

2) Laugh and de-stress

It’s pretty impossible to hoop without a smile on your face. It’s silly, it’s fun and it really brings out your inner child.

Hooping can also bring you into the moment. I love how mediation calms the craziness in my mind, but I sometimes struggle to actually sit still and clear my  thoughts. I find hula hooping a great form of moving mediation, a way to stay in the moment and tune out mental distractions.

If you really want to get into the zone, try blindfolded hooping. First, make sure you won’t be disturbed. Put on a great song, tie on a blindfold (you can close your eyes but a blindfold is better) and get hooping. You might feel a little silly for the first minute, but stick with it! Tune into the rhythmic circular motion of the hoop as it rolls around you and massages your tummy. Breath deep and relax.

3) Make friends

I can’t tell you how many new friends I’ve made thanks to a small plastic circle! The combination of childhood nostalgia and the simplicity of the hoop (‘I could do that’) makes it an instant conversation starter, whether you’re carrying one around town, hooping in the park or breaking one out at a party.

Local hoop groups and classes are a fun way to meet new people and learn tricks and moves. No hoopers in your local area? Start your own hoop jam and get people involved.

There’s also an amazing and supportive online hoop community. Check out www.hooping.org , the best online resource for videos, tutorials and photos, and the forums are a great place to ask any questions you might have. www.hoopcity.ca is another good place to meet other hoopers online.

4) Build confidence
For me, something that started off as a way to get fit and have a laugh has completely revolutionised the way I think about myself and my body. I have always struggled with weight gain and body image issues, as a lot of us have.

Learning how to hoop gave me a way to tune out negative self talk, to stop the judgement and to just enjoy moving my body freely. When your body is moving, flowing and feeling good, there’s no room left in your head for negativity.

Plus, people love watching hoopers! It’s a beautiful thing to see someone moving in tune with their hoop, completely absorbed in their flow. As someone who has never considered herself a dancer, I was shocked by the effect my (then pretty basic and clunky) hooping had on the happiness of others.

As I became more confident moving with my hoop, I became more confident within myself and in the rest of my life. And it’s not just me – hoopers all around the world have discovered the healing power of the hoop and how to love the process.

Stay tuned!

Next week I’ll be back to give you all the info you’ll need to get into the spin yourself!

In the meantime — can you help me spread the joy of hooping to kids in refugee camps?

I’m heading to the Thai/Burma border in January to work with children in refugee camps, teaching them circus skills, bringing them toys, performing silly routines to make them laugh and just generally giving them a bit of a childhood.  I would appreciate any donations you could make. For more information, check out www.livelovehoop.com/spark

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