From festivals to organized classes, hooping is a unique fitness activity for children and adults.
The Record-Journal got a few lessons at Hubbard Park from Kailey Mitchell, founder and owner of Hipnotic Hoopla, based in New Haven.
Here are five things to know about the activity.Health benefits
According to a study commissioned by the American Council on Exercise in 2011, hoop fitness has been proven to be a total-body workout. The study found that a 30-minute hooping workout can burn an average of 210 calories.
Hooping can help increase strength and flexibility as well as balance.
Mitchell said the activity has both physical and mental benefits.
“It’s a great cardio workout,” she said.
Hooping can also be a successful stress and anxiety reliever.
“You can actually get into a meditative state, similar to yoga,” Mitchell said.
Because hooping has little to no impact on the joints, anyone of any age is able to participate (unless otherwise noted by a physician.)
“I’ve taught people as young as five all the way up to 90-years old,” Mitchell said.The basics
A hula hoop and comfortable clothing are the only equipment needed to participate. Hoops come in all sizes and should touch the belly button from the ground up. For hoop fitness, or on-body hooping, a one and a half to two pound weighted hoop is used depending on individual fitness levels. Hoop dance, or off-body hooping, uses a lighter hoop called a dance hoop that weighs about a pound.
Typical one-hour classes use both hoops; one for the first half of the session and the other hoop for the last half.
Some hoops are able to fold up to half their size for easy traveling.On-body hooping
Using the waist to control and move a weighted hoop is called on-body hooping. Mitchell said the trick to keep the hoop up and moving around the waist is to use a bigger and heavier hoop.
Once the hoop stays up, walking, pivoting and spinning moves are incorporated into the workout.Off-body hooping
Hoop dance or off-body hooping is when a lighter hoop is manipulated off the waist. The whole upper body can move, flip and swing the hoop in choreographed segments.
Some moves include weaving, which is when the hoop is moved in front of the body and rolls back the other way in a figure 8 pattern. A tap is added on to the weave, which is when the hoop is brought down the ground then raised up over the head. The hoop is then lowered to the waist while spinning.
Hoop dance can be seen at festivals and on the beach, especially on the West Coast where it first became popular. Mitchell recently demonstrated hoop dance at the SkyHoundz park event in Wallingford this past summer.
Hoop classes for childrens also tend to be more focused on the dance element while still giving younger students a workout. The classes consist of choreographed dances and games with the hoops.Options
Mitchell, a certified hoop teacher, will be hosting classes for children and adults this month through the North Branford Recreation Department.
While the Meriden YMCA does not currently have any hoop specific programs, one of their personal trainers Beky Henderson-Hanna is hoopnotica certified.
“I have used it with clients for core training,” she said of hoop fitness. “It’s a great waist trimmer.”
She said the activity is easy to practice at home while watching TV or listening to music.
Some other local hoop instructors and programs include Cori Magnotta of Hoop with Cori in Portland and Bring the Hoopla out of Seymour, among a few others.
Hoopers in Connecticut also have a community Facebook group called Connecticut Hoop Dance run by Mitchell.
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