Sunday 30 March 2014

Hooping: 4 Weeks Later

Fun Rating: ★★★★☆    Difficulty Rating: ★★☆☆☆     Results Rating: ★★★☆☆

   How effective can standing in one place while spinning a hoop around your waist possibly be? You're not exactly jumping up and down, plus hula hoops are just kid's toys!
   While these points may be true to a degree, hooping is surprisingly hard work. I didn't expect it to be so exhausting at any rate! I thought I'd give it a go because of all the hype, plus even if it wasn't that effective, it could be a good workout for quieter days, or a means to increase my workout time by adding some hooping onto the end of it.
   After this month of hooping, I have come up with a verdict: it is awesome. It's not easy at first, but once you get the hang of it, you really get the hang of it, and it really is enjoyable. My waist, to my surprise, has become firmer and more toned, and those were results I didn't at all expect to see. It's also not an expensive workout - sure, a good hoop isn't exactly chips, but they last a long time, can give your whole body a workout, and it's the only thing you really need. I'm also glad I swapped my first massage hoop in for a padded one - you can read why, and the beginning of the month, here.

   There are two things I feel I have to say about hooping, however, in case anyone is thinking about trying it: 1) you will bruise, and 2) you will drop the hoop.
   Why will you bruise? Because you're not used to keeping it around your waist. It doesn't matter if you get a massage hoop or a padded one, the fact is that the hoop will drop down to your hips from your waist, and that will bruise your hips. Also, it's likely to hurt your waist since your waist is soft and gently and not used to having such a thing spin around it. But know this: your waist will toughen up, and it won't take long. Your waist will toughen naturally just by using the hoop, and when your waist toughens, you'll find it much easier and more comfortable to keep it around your waist, it'll stay off your hips and bruising won't occur. It's really very simple.
   However, from my personal experience, I would recommend a padded hoop, not a massage one. Those little massage nobbles can hurt like hell and really put you off. I would also recommend following the instructions that come with the hoop, which is usually as follows: use for 3 minutes a day for the first 7 days, then 5 minutes a day for the following 7. Once you've adjusted, you can build that time up. It might seem counter-productive to use it so little at the beginning, but those timeframes are there to give your waist a chance to properly toughen up and get used to it. It's far better to use it for 3 minutes a day, every day, than it is to use it for 10 minutes in one day and be unable to use it again for another four because you're hurting too much. Never, ever, ever ignore these kinds of instructions, they're there for your benefit as much as the company's legal protection (meaning that you can't sue them over injuries if they made a point of letting you know how to avoid them, or telling you that they're inevitable, and in this case, the bruising certainly is).

   Why will you drop the hoop? Because initially it's hard to keep it up and keep it spinning. When you're a kid, you're full of energy, you're more flexible, and the hoop you're using is really light, so it was easy peasy lemon squeezy. An adult hoop, however, is bigger and heavier, and we're not all as flexible as we used to be. You will probably think, when you first start spinning the hoop, that I'm talking nonsense, and that it's easy. That's because you've spun it in an instinctive direction which likely correlates to being right- or left-handed. You have to spin the hoop in the opposite direction for the same amount of time in order to tone properly on both sides of your body (five minutes one way, five minutes another), and that's when it will fall, and fall it will, probably almost immediately. Stick with it. Believe me, you adjust quickly, and it'll get easy very fast. I think it took me 3 days with a total of 5 minutes a day to get the hang of it completely and it was quickly easy as pie.

   I mentioned two weeks ago that I got myself a hooping DVD. I haven't mentioned it since, but reast assured that I've been using it, and I really must say that I recommend getting a hooping DVD. You don't have to spend a fortune - get it second hand and learn the parts and then you can do it without the DVD. Hoopnotica, which I know is popular in the US, is not available in the UK, so I bought the only one that was: Heart Hulaerobics. It's been made by Heart FM, but just because it's a radio station rather than a gym, don't think it's not reliable. The instructor is a proper instructor, and the DVD is clear and directional. That's not to say that it's easy, though. It's got several sections, and that's not counting the first two. The first two sections are an introduction, and a 'how to hoop' which basically shows you how to do it properly (hint: don't move your hips in circles, move your weight through your feet and pump your waist backwards and forwards). A Heart FM radio host is doing it with her at that moment and she is clearly not a professional, and that's good, because she's making similar mistakes that you probably will be, and the instructor corrects her and makes sure she's doing it right, and that is quite valuable. It pops up later in the DVD to cover a move from the 'back' section which I have to admit I haven't at all mastered myself yet.
   I'll be posting a DVD review that covers more of it in a few days.

   For now, I'll simply say this: hooping is a good way to workout. It's fun, and it's challenging enough. You can do it anywhere - in your living room, the garden - and you don't truly need a DVD to do it, just some instructional videos on Youtube would do. It is hard work, but when you've learned a few moves, you really do start to feel like a clever clogs, and that's a feeling I don't get elsewhere these days! March's workout challenge has been a load of fun. I feel a lot slimmer and more toned, and I just feel a lot better physically than I have from any other workout before.
   As I've said, I'm going to post a review on the DVD in a couple of days, and I'm also going to try to put together a post of hooping tips for those of you who are more interested. When I started, before I got the DVD, I was looking around the internet for tips and I didn't find any of them helpful, so I'm hoping I can put together a post full of the things I was looking for myself in the beginning.


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