THE BASICS: Happy Healthy Hoops offers an hour of tummy toning, arm defining and torso wiggling at Portabello Green Fitness Club with instructor Bree. £10 per class, Sundays 3.30pm, other classes in Kentish Town and Warwick Avenue also available throughout the week
THE BITCHES: Carly
THE CLASS: I was late to start thanks to an div on the front desk at the fitness centre not knowing which room the hoop class was being held in (absolutely not Bree’s fault at all, and hopefully he’s learned where the flippin’ class is held by now).
However, I did sit in the bar next to the studio for the first ten minutes sipping on my coconut water like a Billy no mates, only to hear music and see a flash of colour through the windows next to me and realise that this idiot had put me in the wrong place! I pressed my little sad face was up against the window and upon confirming my suspicions, I legged it back through reception and into the studio.
It was a shame to miss the warm up but Bree was very understanding and welcomed me warmly. I scooped up one glittery (yesssssss) heavy waist hoop and two lighter stripy hoops, and started gyrating tentatively at the back of the class. Bree took the time to explain that it was more about actual back-and-forth hip thrusts that kept the momentum of the hoop going, rather than the wiggle from the knees through the hips that felt more natural. I felt like I was doing that rude Michael Jackson dance move- somewhat liberating I’ll admit!
Mr. Glittery hoop was swinging happily around my waist when two things happened… Bree told us to change the direction we were swinging the hoop, and also to get faster.
My hips were having none of this. The hoop must have fallen to the floor about 10 times in the space of that minute, and I couldn’t get it going any faster for the life of me. Other girls in the class were managing to speed up and so it was definitely possible, I just think I’d need to attend a few more classes to improve my technique.
Making a mental note to myself to buy a hoop and practice anti-clockwise hooping so I wouldn’t publicly embarrass myself like this again, it was time to tackle some waist AND arm movements.
Coordination was the next basic motor-skill to let me down.
We tried lots of arm-hooping variations, including one arm up and spinning above our head like a halo, and out to the side (which became even more like we had joined the cast of Cirque de Soleil by doing this with both hands simultaneously. I may or may not have screeched with excitement when I finally managed to get hoops swinging around both hands at the same time).
Bree was really good at getting us to hoop for several minutes at a time whilst coming around the class and giving us individual help/tips on improvement. She was able to explain things simply which was gratefully received whilst I struggled with complicated concepts such as breathing and moving at the same time.
Time for the big one- waist BOTH hands. I KNOW. Someone warn the Chinese Circus I am pretty much ready to start a one-woman show to rival them.
This was the exercise equivalent of rubbing your tummy and patting your head at the same time (yes, you may take a minute to try this now, I’ll wait).
……..How did you do?
Still as difficult as it was when you were little?! TRY ADDING TWO HOOPS IN THERE- it was a very daunting task and one that I may or may not have spent the last part of the class trying to master.
I tell you what though, when I managed it, I was grinning like the Cheshire Cat. Bree was smiling back at my achievement from the front of class and I felt like I’d just won the Olympic gold medal for hooping. It was an emotional moment.
Last part of the class was great fun- a session of how many hops can you… well…hoop?! We split into partners; one person took two of the heavy waist hoops and got them going around the waist, and the other stood like a magicians assistant with a handful of the lighter stripy hoops, throwing them over their partner’s head until the hooper was swinging with a shiz load of hoops around their waist, yelling in excitement.
I found it helped me to concentrate on spinning lots of hoops by keeping my eyes tightly shut so I wasn’t intimidated by the hoops being chucked round my waist… although this kind of meant that I didn’t get to appreciate the pretty whirling colour twizzling round my waist when I got to my record of 12!! It also meant I didn’t notice myself ending up with the posture of some sort of gyrating-sex-pest-in-a-nightclub until I saw the photos.
It did make me think though- maybe those boys on club dancefloors who say hello nob-first are actually misunderstood souls and just practicing their hula hooping skills?!
Ok, agreed, this is definitely not the case.
THE VERDICT: This class was a really good fun way to isolate a few areas of your body and throw some fun into what can sometimes become a serious workout routine. The soundtrack was spot on too, and Bree worked us without exhausting us which was perfect for a Sunday afternoon class. The feeling of achievement you get when you manage to coordinate some hoops makes you laugh out loud with happiness- this class is exactly what it promises; Happy, Healthy Hooping!
THE EXTRAS: Hula hooping?! Easy peasy, you say? You were doing that aged three, you say?! WRONG. My obliques and strangely enough biceps/triceps were feeling it the next day. Having said that, I’ve decided I am definitely asking the Birthday Bunny for a glittery hula hoop this month. I hope you’re reading this Birthday Bunny/mum and dad :D