Gill South swings into action for an aerobics class with a difference.

Well I'm sorry, but you can't call yourself a proper Aucklander unless you've been to a Hot Hula class - it's just such a celebration of the Polynesian culture we have in this city.

I go along to a Hot Hula fitness class on a rainy Monday night held at the St Joseph's church school hall next to the Grey Lynn library on Great North Rd.

This is not like any other exercise class - you are greeted with a hug - Hot Hula is not just about a fitness workout, it's about sisterhood (and brotherhood) coming together. It's lovely that, though this is an aerobics class, there is no lycra in sight or if there is, it's been covered with beautiful colours, preferably floral.

My look is a bit busy: black leggings topped by a purple sarong wrapped around my waist, a bright pink top, a jumper, a sports cardy and a maroon lei. It takes me a good ten minutes before I discard the jumper - it is a chilly winter night after all.


We start the class with a wee prayer led by Tina Reid, the instructor who takes us through the various steps, there's a lot of hip swaying, and going low. She tells us to swing our hips in the shape of a smile. This class is all about strengthening our core - with specific emphasis on the abs, glutes, quads and arms. Tina is good on imagery. She tells us to swing our hips around as if we are cleaning out an icecream container with our bottoms. Now that speaks to me. Celebrate that derriere is the message.

I'm expecting traditional Polynesian music but in fact, we have a real mix - the Pointer Sisters, Whitney Houston, some traditional island music, some hip-hop and we finish with Michael Jackson.

As the new girl to the class, I'm following all the experienced ones and there are so many to choose from, some not bad Pakeha there too. Meanwhile the vast majority seriously know what they are doing as this is the intermediate class - Tina has many assistant teachers. These are elegant women. Just the way they turn their heads to the music, move effortlessly from side to side, it's a joy to watch. Some have brought their little daughters who hop up on the stage with the teachers after a while - heaven for eight-year-old girls.

The hardest bit I find is when you go down low and wiggle your hips - I think at that point I resemble a tin soldier, all stiff and disjointed. The gorgeous bejewelled older woman on my right, on the other hand, has it sussed. She is having a ball, undulating to the music with perfect timing.

I have moments where I get it. I peak I think when doing these punches out from the body and then some chest thrusts, I get a bit of rhythm going. One of the kind assistant teachers says she has been impressed with my sense of rhythm. No doubt complete hokum, but it's very much part of the supportive atmosphere in the class. This is no bootcamp - if you come here after a taxing day, it will be like having a warm, enveloping hug - you leave beaming and relaxed.

I'll definitely come again. There's also a class at the Grey Lynn Community Centre on Friday nights too. And the cost, just $2.

Next week:

I've been dogged by a sore throat which just keeps reappearing everytime I get a bit stressed or run-down. Waipu herbalist Malcolm Harker is giving me some herb combinations to help with my immunity.