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Hula your way to healthy!

Wednesday 7 December, 2011 by Cairín

After finishing my second half marathon in three months, I had enough of running. I didn't want to throw the towel in completely but I needed to mix things up a little on the exercise front or my relationship with my iPod would be in jeopardy! A hula hoop lurking in the corner of my kitchen provided the inspiration - and, after some online searching, hula hoop dance class revealed itself as the answer.

The course I found online described itself as covering essential hoop dance techniques including keeping the hoop up, controlling the spin so you can move, and on and off body tricks. I would also learn fun hoop dance moves such as jump throughs, isolations and vertical hooping. 

So off I toddled to give it a whirl. Fancying myself for a bit of a Shakira, I imagined that it was the hips that separate the hula babes from the boys. But really it's all in the abs, as our instructor demonstrated.

There were four other women in my class of all ages and abilities. Ambient music played and we start the class in a circle using our hoops as stretching props. The hoops are exquisite - bright, dazzling colours. I'm given a nice big hoop that work best for beginners, I'm told. I pick it up and swing it around my hips and, much to my utter delight, it keeps going around.

Then it was time for tricks! We learned how to turn around while keeping the hoop moving. Then how to make flowing, looping motions with our hoops, jump through them and travel the hoop up to our arms and down again back to our wrists. I accidentally whipped my ears, head and bum in the process and I knew there will be more than one bruise in the morning but I didn't care! I'm hooked on hooping.

After my first class, I came home in a flurry of excitement, convinced I'd finally found the exercise equivalent of the Holy Grail. An hour simply wasn't long enough. I hardy glanced at the clock once (a staunch contrast to my clock watching ritual at yoga). And for tummy toning coming into summer, it certainly beats two minutes of plank or stomach crunches any day of the week.

Within five minutes, I had convinced my bewildered boyfriend that a.) he's going out with a lunatic and b.) he has to buy me an awesome sparkly pink hula hoop for Christmas.

With Australia's obesity levels reaching alarming new heights, it's never been so crucial to get moving. With such a variety of options out there, from high-heel routines to pole dancing to piloxing, there's sure to be something for everyone.

It's recommended that we do one hour of moderate activity or 30 minutes of vigorous activity daily . That's the amount that will help cut our cancer risk.

Do you have a favourite weird and wacky exercise classes that you have tried and loved? Tell us about it.

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