Hula Hoops Roll From Fad Toys to Fitness Aids
What was a fad in the 1950s has made a comeback in the modern workout world, with hula hooping classes popping up everywhere. According to the American Council on Exercise, hula hooping burns an average of 420 calories an hour and is a low-impact cardio workout that's easy on the joints, improving coordination and tightening the core.
"The weight loss and cardio conditioning attributes are attractive to new students, and the mind-body benefits keep them engaged," says Gabriella Redding, CEO of Hoopnotica, a Los Angeles-based hoop dance company.
To get the most out of your hooping workout, Redding suggests trying an adult-sized fitness hoop. "The larger size and heavier weight create a centrifugal force, which works with you to keep the hoop up," she says.
Here are seven moves from Redding's workout. (Click on thumbnails for larger images and note the "power points" on each illustration -- they are the points on the body where the hoop derives momentum. )
This move slims the waist and defines the core. If you have difficulty with this position, try side stance (next move). Notice that the power points shift and sometimes will feel more comfortable as a result. The intensity of this move can be increased by contracting the abdominal muscles and powering the hoop faster.
2. Waist Hooping: Side Stance
This is a faster-paced version of waist hooping. It has the same benefits as forward stance, but with a slightly higher cardio intensity.
Step forward with each forward push. Take small steps and move slowly until you get used to moving around. This move targets the core, legs and glutes.
Make sure you spin in the same direction as your hoop is spinning. Start in forward stance using a pivot turn. Make sure to pivot on your left foot and pick up the right foot. Doing this move is a great way to increase your heart rate. The hoop will appear to stop in mid-air as you carry it around your waist.
Having the hoop in halo allows you to dance around freely and is a sneaky way to engage your core. Make sure to keep the hoop between your thumb and forefingers; don't allow it to slide down your forearm. Halos are a great workout for all the muscles in your arms and upper back.
Pass from one hand to the next, making sure both hands are palm down. Swing the hoop horizontally behind you and pass it off to the other hand, grabbing the hoop, palm down. This move really works the glutes as you dip up and down and is a fun way to pick up speed.
Use your hoop like a jump rope, or try this stylized jump-through: Move the hoop in a figure eight, from side to side of your body in a vertical plane. Prepare to jump right as the hoop crosses from the right side to the left. You will need to duck your head and pick up your knees as you step through. You'll feel your abs engage. This move is higher-intensity and works your whole body.
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