Saturday 1 March 2014

March: Hooping

 Read also: 2 Weeks Later4 Weeks Later &

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

   I was flicking through this month's Women's Fitness magazine, and at the back was just a mention of hula hooping. Immediately a fire started in my head (it takes that little) and I decided it sounded like buckets of fun, so I got myself a hoop and decided that that would be this month's challenge.

   I did a quick search on Amazon for a fitness hoop and the very first result was a ResultSport Level 1 Anion Hoop - it had all these strange nobbly bits on it to massage you, and given that the reviews were pretty good (110 5-star, 37 4-star, 20 3-star, 9 2-star and 16 1-star reviews) with the only negatives really being that the product hurt and caused bruising (which was mentioned several times in the product details by the seller themselves, and in my opinion, if warning is given on the product page then you don't really have much of a reason to complain because you should expect it), I decided I'd try it.

   The product arrived flat-packed with instructions on fitting together (easy) and using it. I did feel that the plastic felt a bit cheap but I always get that sense from plastic so I looked past it. The pieces fitted together easily, but not so easily that they'd break or come apart after or during use. To be honest, it really felt quite sturdy.
   There was, initially, only one problem: it's advised that you only use it for 3 minutes every day for the first 7 days, and then 5 minutes a day for the next seven. I'm not new to working out at all, so I didn't really think sore muscles would be a problem, but I decided that it's best to follow the instructions anyway. So I do have a confession to make: I started using the hoop around the 17th of February. I didn't want to save it until March 1st only to find I'm barely using it for the first two weeks because that wouldn't really offer anything in the way of results, so I decided to break it (and my waist) in two weeks early.
   I was right: sore muscles weren't a problem. I never got them at all, and the stitch I had expected to get never occurred either. The product's packaging, website information and reviews were right: bruising occurred. Horrible little circles. I had expected it, though, since I was definitely warned, and intended to persevere, but I found it very difficult to keep going on the second day. The bruising hurt, but even where there were no visible bruises the nobbles were hurting me like hell.
   I had three choices: stick with it but with doubtlessly little enthusiasm until my body toughened up against it; send it back and buy a hoop without nobbles; or give up completely. The latter was not, in my opinion, an option, and I can't say that the idea of continuing to use a hoop that was that uncomfortable filled me with enthusiasm, so I decided to send it back, get a refund, and buy a new hoop.

   I stuck with ResultSport, however, and went for a padded hoop instead. The original hoop weighed about .75kg, but this one weighed 1.2kg, almost 500g more, and that does make a difference. The ResultSport Level 1 Padded Hoop in particular also had amazing reviews (168 5-star, 39 4-star, 6 3-star, 2 2-star and 3 1-star reviews) and it seemed to be an even better option, though more expensive. This time I did make sure to read the negative reviews, as few as there were. The majority of 1-3 star reviews said the hoop was too heavy, a couple said it was too light, and one said something about their cat which was clearly not worth taking into account at all. They also mentioned bruising as well, but I figured that bruising was bruising; this padded hoop would surely be more comfortable to use and the bruising wouldn't last long, or keep forming after a few weeks. They did all say that the hoop was good quality, though, it's just that it didn't seem to agree with them. But with 168 5-stars I barely had to think about it.

   Much like the first hoop, this was flat-packed and easily assembled. It felt like much better quality, really good stuff. It was a little tougher to put together because of the foam, and it's a little harder to disassemble as well, but that's why there are little white rectangles printed on the foam. Beneath them (or close to that area) is where you'll find the buttons to press to take the hoop apart. As with the first hoop, it doesn't seem likely at all that it's going to come apart while in use, or afterwards. It's definitely kinder on the skin, too, but bruising did still occur, though whether this was because of the specific hoop or because I was already bruised (the new bruising was on top of the initial bruises) I don't know. Regardless, my lack of enthusiasm melted away.

   Either way, I've done the first 7 days of 3 minutes and the next 7 days of 5 minutes, and feel more than ready to go for a more prolonged time frame. Once I've got the basics down, I might get a DVD to use with it - there are plenty. So while I did start 2 weeks early, I don't feel like I've done all that much with it except some kind of pre-use checks, really.
   I'm quite excited to get to using it properly now, and as last month, I'll write a 2-week report around the middle of the month to update you on how it's gone.


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