Corazon Miller is a NZ Herald reporter

Alternative fitness: Whirling, twirling workout is serious fun

Choosing to pound the pavements or head to the nearest set of gym equipment after the usual end-of-year festive feast is not everyone’s idea of fun. Corazon Miller looked at some quirkier options to get moving. Today she gives the weighted hula hoop a spin in a Powerhoop class.
Powerhooping belies its colourful appearance and is a challenging workout. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Powerhooping belies its colourful appearance and is a challenging workout. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Walking into the hall among the array of rainbow-coloured hoops, clothing and headgear, you could be forgiven for thinking you'd accidently stumbled across a circus class, instead of an exercise one.

But despite its light-hearted facade, Powerhoop has been designed as a serious workout that can help shift a few unwanted kilos and get you into better shape.

The tools of the trade - coloured, weighted hoops - promise to give regular participants an improved core, less back pain, toned legs and better fitness overall.

The hoop, weighing up to 2.1kg, was designed not just to get the hips moving, but as a weight, a resistance tool and even as a mini obstacle course to run and jump around.

As I headed down to give this cirque-like class a go, I felt fairly confident I'd be able to pick up my hooping skills where I'd left them - on the school playground some 15 years ago.

Even a warning by instructor Amy McAuley did nothing to dispel my initial confidence.

"Now remember that most people have hooped for a while, so I don't expect you to do all the moves. Just try to get the hoop moving."

I got the hoop moving - but that was about it and even that I didn't do too well.

The warm-up involved a few simple enough twirls with the hula hoop, but this quickly evolved into doing the grapevine [a criss-crossing side-step], running, star-jumping, turning and kicking - all while keeping the hoop turning.

The best I managed was a few whirls ... drop the hoop ... rescue the hoop ... start again. I also managed the odd step here and there alongside the occasional run-in with my neighbouring hula-hooper, before it all came to comical end in a hula relay that involved throwing coloured balls and wigs around the room.

Ms McAuley is a self-described convert to the craze which has hit Europe big-time and continues to grow in popularity here.

"I can't believe I found an exercise that I loved to do," she said. "I can have a crap day, come to powerhooping and I just feel elated and brilliant."

She said it helped flatten the tummy, trim the waist and strengthen the back. "Bodies change, people find a new confidence in themselves."

The verdict: A cheerful way for those who are kids at heart to groove their way to better form.

Powerhoop

• Originated in Norway.

• Popular in Europe with classes available in more than 400 places.

• Started in New Zealand in 2013.

• Classes can be found in Howick, Panmure, Rotorua, Whangaparaoa and Whitford.

• Uses a 2kg hoop to help tone muscles, improve cardio fitness and build core strength.

Testimonials

Kerrie Evans had been hooping since May 2013 when her friends "pressured" her into going along. "When I was a kid I couldn't hula hoop, but after a couple of classes you can keep the hoop up," she said. "It's great, it's really good fun."

She said coming to four classes a week as well as her usual walk had helped her tone her waist, develop a good core and strengthen her back.

Lesley Kayll was lured to the Powerhoop class by "curiosity" while walking past the hall in Howick where the class was held about a year ago.

"It's made a huge difference [to her health and welfare], I love it."

In the year she has been powerhooping she has lost more than 10kg, 18cm off her waist and gone down three dress sizes.

- NZ Herald

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