Hooping through the Ages - Fitness Review

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Imagine. It’s 1955. Bill Haley and the Comets’ “Rock Around the Clock” starts whistling through the jukebox at the diner, and all the cheerleaders and their quarterback boyfriends can’t help but take one last sip of that strawberry malt before getting up to boogie. Waitresses bust out their hula hoops, climb on the tables, and a party that’s the bees knees starts bumping out…but ends at a respectable time, of course.

I have to admit, when I first heard about hula hooping for weight loss, this was the image that popped into my head (yes, I probably watch WAY too many movies for my own good!). I didn’t honestly think that my favorite childhood toy could actually be a tool to whittle down my waistline. But, in all actuality, it really is one hell of a rockin’ workout!

I first started “hooping” a couple of years ago. I used to be a nanny/tutor for a young girl who had such severe allergies that she was not even able to leave her home, and survived on a diet of hormone-free ground beef, corn, bosc pears (allergic to the rest) and egg/dairy free spelt pancakes/bread/anything else you could make with spelt, water and soymilk. Her allergies were so severe that she couldn’t even leave the house to play outside or go to school, which broke my heart, but her mother had set up quite the play area for her inside. One of her favorite things to do was hula hoop, like most 10 year-old girls, and they also had an “adult-sized” hoop that her mom or I could use. We started having contests to see who could keep their hoop up the longest, and this would sometimes we’d still be going strong after 30, 45, 50 minutes, upwards of an hour! When one of us would finally cave, we’d be sweaty, but not tired, and even felt more energized! Cut to the next day and Holy Hell were my abs paying the price! After a couple of weeks of these random competitions through the day, I started doing some online research.

Turns out, “hooping”, as it’s called in fitness circles, was beginning to show up in gyms across the country as a great way to shed inches, get that heart rate up, and get the blood flowing with super-low impact, and a whole lot of fun (I mean, who can’t help but smile and reminisce on their innocent and fun childhood toy when hooping?!)

Cut to now, two years later. I have my own “weight-loss hoop” that cost a mere 30 bucks. It weighs 3 pounds (I’ve graduated from the 5 pound hoop [the more the hoop weighs, maxing out at 5 pounds, the easier it is to keep up]) and is considerably larger than the hoops we used when we were kids. It’s something that takes up little space (fits in the closet), and something that you can do while watching your favorite tv shows after a long day of work. The best thing about it is, I honestly don’t feel like I’m exercising! Hooping burns up to 100 calories every TEN MINUTES, which is more than the treadmill, and much nicer on your joints (which is good if you’re someone like me, who has very sensitive joints). I make a point to hoop between 40-60 minutes a night, which realistically, is one tv show. Instead of letting my ass form to the sofa as it gradually expands, I’m up and doing something about it! And according to Hoopnotica.com, hooping consistently does the following:

Physical Benefits:
Builds core strength
Tones your entire body
Provides an intense cardiovascular workout
No to Low Impact
Increases energy
Develops balance and coordination
Increases flexibility

Mental/Emotional Benefits:
Clears and quiets the mind
Reduces stress
Improves self confidence
Generates joy and laughter
Improves one's mood
Opens up creative self expression

Seriously? Swinging a hoop around your hips does all THAT?!?! I can honestly say that, yes, it does. Now, I’m not going to lie. I have not lost weight doing this. HOWEVER, I have a very severe disorder, and essentially, my metabolism is literally dead. Most people with levels like mine in my condition gain on average, 3-5 pounds a month on a restricted-calorie diet with 3-5 days of exercise a week. And between hooping and my Biggest Loser for Wii Fit, I have maintained my weight, which basically means that anybody who does not share my condition WILL lose weight and whittle down your waist by doing this. The fact that I’ve been able to maintain my weight for almost a year now (and even lose 5 pounds this year, which is nothing to most people, but HUGE for someone with my disorder), so clearly, it’s doing something for me. It’s also increased my energy and stamina, which was something that I didn’t think I’d ever have again. I HIGHLY recommend hooping to everyone out there, whether you need to lose weight, or whether your just looking for something fun to lift your spirits a little bit.

I LOVE using my hoop to stretch before and after using it. It stretches muscles I was never able to properly stretch before!

So, what does this have to do with a vegan diet, you ask? Well, if you want to get super analytical, I suppose nothing. But I truly believe that the more you get up and move, the better you feel, and the easier it is to make good healthy choices in all aspects of your life. I know that I feel better about myself when I move a bit, and it also keeps me focused on what I put into my body. Plus, being vegan, I believe, is about being good to your fellow living beings, your mother earth, and yourself and getting yourself moving is honouring your body, and thanking it for being that vessel of power. So hoop on!

Just an FYI, this is similar to my hoop if you're interested in shopping around for one: Weighted Sports Hula Hoop

And yes, you can still be "rock 'n roll" as a hooper...it's not just for hippies anymore!


Melissa said...

This looks SO fun! I've been thinking of getting a small trampoline - how cool would I love jumping on a little trampoline doing the hula hoop? Ha!


Danielle said...

Melissa, it is TONS of fun! Last night, I watched "Glee", then picked up my hoop, changed over to the "Biggest Loser" and worked out with the contestants! It's fun to set a challenge of making it through an hour long program. Give it a shot!

The Blue Faerie said...

I've been looking for a way to strengthen my ab muscles on the days I don't have bellydance. I'll have to check this out. Thanks!

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