By TIFFANY RONEY
A child-friendly activity has made its way into celebrity workouts, and two fitness-istas from Abilene are bringing it to the local community.
Marci Clare, instructor of advanced hooping, and Tabitha Area, instructor of beginner hooping, teach a class they call Hula Hoop Fitness.
One of Area’s favorite students is her 70-year-old grandmother. Area said her grandmother has “balance and flexibility issues. I’ve been kind of doing a study with her on that and she’s improving,” Area said. “She’s kind of a jokester, so as we’re doing this, it’s just grandma-granddaughter-great-grandson time because my son does it with me, too.”
Area said she teaches her grandmother isolation moves like arm spinning and hoop lifting. In addition to building strength, Area said the moves also increase balance because they require the hooper to stand on one leg.
“Holding it out and bringing one foot slightly off the ground, it makes you think,” Area said. “It takes your coordination to hold it out there off the ground and bring your foot up to your ankle.”
Area said her grandmother has made measurable progress through her hooping journey.
“She couldn’t lift her foot up without losing her balance so I just had her slightly lift it up and then the next time I had her maybe bring it up a little above the ankle,” Area said. “Now, she’s almost able to bring it to her calf.”
Twist ‘n sweat
Clare said her friend, Jess (last name withheld), started waist hooping – the traditional way, with the hoop around her waist – at Clare’s suggestion.
Jess started hooping four times a week while watching television. Each time she hooped 300 rotations around her waist one direction and then 300 rotations the opposite way. In a couple of months, Jess lost 30 pounds.
Area said she herself has lost 17 pounds and two dress sizes since she started hooping. However, Area said the weight loss is not due solely to her hooping habit.
“Instead of canned veggies, I eat frozen veggies and my portions, I eat half of what I usually serve Alec and my husband,” Area said. “The evening time was my biggest fault, taking a bag of chips to the living room.”
Now, Area eats most of her calories in the morning. The rest of the day, she eats small portions and she aims to not eat at all after 7 p.m.
Take it easy
Both Area and Clare can perform a repertoire of tricks with their hoops, from hoop jumps, in which they hold the hoops in front of them and jump through the hoops, to walking lunges, in which they keep the hoop spinning while doing traditional bent-knee lunges. While Area said she now has plenty of fun doing tricks with her hoop, the start of her journey was fraught with frustration.
“There were several nose smacks and then I’d go home and I’d just try it and try it,” Area said. “There’s one particular one that you switch, you do arm hooping and then you switch to your elbow. It took me a couple months to figure this one out. We were doing a class and one day I was not even paying attention and I just did it.”
Clare said hoop trick success is often found when hoopers least expect it.
“When you master a trick that you work and work and work on, oh yeah,” Clare said. “Some tricks you pick up on really quick and some take longer to get, but it’s just so fun trying to learn it and when you get it – the brain, the muscles, grabbing the hoop at the correct spot – it all just clicks together. And pretty soon, you’re like, ‘Oh, why did I spend months trying to get that?’”
To learn or practice hooping, contact Clare at 785-280-3355, at firstname.lastname@example.org or at facebook.com/kansasdaisyhoops. Clare’s and Area’s class, Hula Hoop Fitness, is offered through Abilene Parks & Recreation. The class is held at 5:15 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays at Abilene Community Center, 1020 N.W. 8th Street. The class is $25 per month and offers open enrollment.