The hula hoop means one of two things to most people. It’s either the cyclical symbol of all things fun, energetic and childlike OR it’s an imprisonment of fear, embarrassment and failing at something children can do.
Truth is, it’s one hell of a workout! If you’d like to say sayonara to treadmill cardio sessions and no thanks to back busting crunches, I suggest you put your pride aside and try having a little fun!
Brass Vixens is one bitchin’ studio in Toronto. Located in the trendy Queen West neighborhood, befitting punks, hippies and hipsters alike, they house pole dance, aerial yoga and hula hoop classes all under one very pink roof. With a lounge, an abundance of tutus and hip hop beats blasting from every corner, it feels like being transported to the cool kids room you never had. But you know, more sexy.
Once you’ve made the decision to take part, the hardest choice becomes what color hoop to commit to. Laugh all you want, but I wasn’t the only girl in the studio stuck between a unicorn combo of pink, blue and purple, or a more conservative orange and yellow. In the end, candy stripes of white and pink matched my Nikes. Hey, this is an all girls zone so this kind of behaviour is totally acceptable.
With ladies of all ages and sizes lined up from wall to wall, the thought of bumping in to one and other crossed my mind, but thankfully never came to fruition (runaway hoops are another story). Our teacher, Ms. V, got us going with her vivacious attitude and burlesque like warmup. Once she was sure we could all keep our hula hoops off the floor for at least a minute or two at a time, we were challenged to fancy moves. Sending the hoop from waist to hips, twirling it between finger and thumb and remembering to breathe were all on the curriculum. Of course, this would all seem novice when the 5 pound balls came out, and we were instructed to do everyone’s least favourite exercises; squats and lunges. Thank goodness the prospect of a hula hooping burpee goes against physics.
If you’re thinking I can’t even keep the hula hoop off the ground, think again! Changing your stance from parallel feet to having one foot in front of the other is great trick. And when in doubt, shimmy harder and faster! You’ll not only get better and stronger, but you’ll get a feel for where the hoop is most comfortable on your body – be it below the rib cage, around your waist or on your hips. Keep comfy clothes in mind too! Baggy apparel can get in the way and bare skin can feel uncomfortable. Bare feet are recommended (for those with fresh pedicures), and HUGE bonus points go to those who rock heels.
Before I knew it, I had worked up a mean sweat and had earned more than a few bruises, keeping in mind my protruding hip bones bruise from simpler things (like firms mattresses, seriously). Looking in to the mirror, I could see that I wasn’t the only one smiling from ear to ear either. The camaraderie between everyone was infectious, clapping when someone landed a new trick or breaking out in to a boisterous (though supportive) laugh when someone sent their hoop trailing across the gym in an accidental game of “hoop trundling.”
I laughed, I was sweating and at one point, I wondered why 24 hour mass gyms didn’t have hoop rooms for every weight rack. I think this class bred a new hobby in me. I won’t be surprised if I garner the nickname “saturn.” Get it? ‘Cuz I’ll always have a ring around me now. No? You’re lame.
By: Eva Severed