This article really caught my eye today in the Daily Mail and I wanted to share it with you all. Who would have thought that something we used to play with as kids would help us shape our tums and bums!!!!
Going through my wardrobe recently, I found a pile of brightly coloured bikinis languishing in a drawer. They can go straight to the charity shop, I thought glumly, stuffing them into a bin bag.
When I gave birth to my little boy 18 months ago, I gained something else as well - a wobbly belly, or, as it’s affectionately known, a ‘mum tum’. So, I was pretty sure my bikini-wearing days were over.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate my body. Long walks with a buggy, breastfeeding and running after a toddler have actually helped me lose more than the three stone I put on during pregnancy. But, while the rest of me has slowly shrunk back into shape, my tummy hasn’t followed suit. Wearing anything body-hugging still fills me with fear.
I’d love to have abs like Olympic athlete Jessica Ennis. And, it would seem, I’m not alone. In a recent survey of 3,000 women, 58 per cent said their stomach was the body part they most wished they could change. The problem is, like most people with children or busy lives, I can’t spend hours in the gym or afford to hire a personal trainer. But now, thanks to the latest celebrity fitness craze, I may have found an unlikely solution: hula hooping.
The last time I picked up a hula hoop, I had ankle socks and pigtails, so I’m understandably nervous as I join the 12 other women in the evening’s class. Anna believes that everyone - even those who are hopelessly uncoordinated like me - can learn to hula hoop.
The secret is lots of practice and the right equipment - the larger and heavier the hoop, the easier it is to control and the more it’ll help you tone up. Anna recommends the Pro Fitness Weighted Hoop, £14.99 from Argos, to start with.
As for what to wear, apparently the fewer or tighter the clothes the better. That way the hoop sticks to you rather than the fabric, so I opt for a purple vest top and blue leggings.
As the class starts, Anna explains that hooping is like riding a bike - it’s all about finding your own personal rhythm and once you’ve got it, it never goes. Music helps you relax, making the whole process much easier, so she turns on the stereo and off we go.
Getting the hula hoop ‘in flight’ (to use the technical term) is actually easier than I’d thought - I just hold it around my waist and fling it sideways - but keeping it twirling for more than a few rotations is going to take some practice.
Anna’s tip is to stay positive - just concentrate on trying to keeping the hoop from falling. That’s easy for her to say, casually spinning her hoop around her neck, but I get countless knocks as mine keeps clattering to the ground.
Anna cheerfully explains that bruises are par for the course when learning, and that my stomach will toughen up, so I should look at them as war wounds.
Slowly, I start to get the hang of it, although I find it much easier to hoop in an anti-clockwise direction than a clockwise one (apparently this is normal for right-handed people). However, if I can learn to hoop in both directions I’ll get better-looking abs, because I will then be working the muscles on both sides of my body.
Some of the women in the class have been hooping for months and Anna shows them how to do tricks like twirling smaller hoops around their wrists at the same time, and moving the hoop from their waist to above their head like a lassoo in one smooth movement.
It certainly looks impressive, but I’d settle for just being able to keep mine going for more than 60 seconds.
As for my mission to lose my mum tum, Anna recommends following Kelly Osborne’s example and hooping for ten minutes a day. For a more intensive workout, I can try turning round slowly on the spot while the hoop is spinning, walking while hooping and sticking my bottom out to make those muscles work harder. To burn even more calories I should vary the pace - exaggerating my movements to make the hoop go faster, then slowing things down which is actually harder).
Armed with this advice, I go home, hoop in hand, to try it for myself. My first problem is where to practise. It’s freezing outside, and after an unfortunate incident in the kitchen involving a fully-loaded mug tree,
I quickly realise that with my hoop measuring over a metre wide, I will need at least two metres of space to exercise in. Which leaves me with the living room.
The next problem is it’s exhausting! My waist feels warm and I’m out of breath within seconds. Ten minutes suddenly feels a very long time.
Still, after a week of dogged determination, I’ve worked out that looking straight ahead rather than down at the hoop helps, meaning I can do 40 rotations before it drops.
Three weeks in and I’m improving in leaps and bounds - I can manage 100 rotations at a time (about two minutes) and have an impressive golf-ball sized bruise (sorry, ‘war wound’) on my hip to show for it. I’ve also lost a centimetre from around my tummy. The hoop splits into six pieces for travel, so I’m even able to take it on a family weekend away.
There are still a few issues - the hoop’s weight makes it surprisingly noisy as it whooshes around you. I’m finding sticking out my bottom so far almost impossible. And my arms really ache with the effort of trying to keep them out of the way.
Oh, and my husband finds it annoying if I hoop when he’s trying to watch football. (Tough).
When Anna rings for a progress update after four weeks, I’m thrilled to tell her just how much I’ve improved.
I’m starting to walk around the room while hooping, can turn in a full circle and manage over 1,000 rotations in both directions. OK, I realise it’s not even close to the world record of 74 hours non-stop, but it’s a start.
I’m eager to up my game - to be honest, hooping on the spot can get repetitive - so Anna suggests reading a book or chatting to a friend while I exercise. Not only will this make the time go faster and occupy my arms, but it should help me learn to hoop almost without thinking. She also suggests going outside and jogging in the park with the hoop. I’m less sure about that, mainly because I don’t want to become a local laughing stock.
Yet surprisingly, it’s not as embarrassing as I’d thought - aside from nearly beheading a passing Labrador, no one gives me a second glance. Plus it’s a lot easier trying new moves when you’re not in danger of tripping over a coffee table. By the end of week five, my tummy is definitely shrinking - I’m amazed to find I measure 4cm less than when I started. My skills are improving, too. I can hula and jog on the spot, enjoy a bit of television and move around my living room without smashing things. Who’d have thought it?
After six weeks of hooping for ten minutes a day, I’ve improved so much I can now make a phone call mid hooping without sounding like I’m running for a bus. I can even paint my nails without a smudge. What’s more, the difference it’s made to my body is phenomenal. My ‘mum tum’ has shrunk by an amazing 5cm, I’ve shaved 2cm off my waist and my bottom is 3cm smaller.
Plus, I’ve lost 5lb and when I went shopping the other day, I managed to fit into a size 12 dress for the first time in 15 years! My husband can’t believe the change in me and concedes that the inconvenience of having his football matches interrupted was well worth it.
Now I’m looking forward to showing off my tummy on the beach this summer. Looks like I won’t be taking those bikinis to the charity shop after all...
For tuition and class enquiries contact Anna at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.youhoop.co.uk