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Published September 14, 2012, 11:40 PM

Hoop dreams: Many using hula hoops as a fitness tool

FARGO – Ariel Waloch, of Fargo, started hula-hooping when she was a junior in high school because she needed a talent for a pageant competition. So years later when she found out Inspire Dance and Wellness Studios in Fargo offered hooping classes, she decided to sign up.

By: Tracy Frank, INFORUM

FARGO – Ariel Waloch, of Fargo, started hula-hooping when she was a junior in high school because she needed a talent for a pageant competition.

So years later when she found out Inspire Dance and Wellness Studios in Fargo offered hooping classes, she decided to sign up.

“I like how it gives you a feeling of accomplishment. You have to work at it, and it doesn’t always come easy,” Waloch said. “But once you accomplish a trick, it keeps you going and keeps you coming back.”

Now, Waloch will be teaching hoop fitness classes at Inspire Dance starting Oct. 11. The classes are planned for 7 to 8 p.m. Thursday and will run for six weeks.

“It’s fun because it’s something different,” she said. “It’s not like going out for a jog every day or going to the gym.”

Shar Berns, who owns Inspire Dance and Wellness Studios in Fargo with Carina Schell, said hooping classes are a cross between a regular fitness class and a dance class.

“If people enjoy dancing, they also enjoy hooping because it’s moving to music,” Berns said. “There are certain skills that you learn throughout the course that make you feel strong and powerful, too. You can feel your muscles being active.”

Hoop Dance increases core and back strength, sculpts muscles and boosts cardiovascular endurance while developing balance and coordination. It’s also a great way to have fun and relieve stress. The workout can burn nearly as many calories as running but remains low-impact on the joints, the businesses’ website stated.

“It’s been pretty highly regarded in some circles from chiropractors because it helps strengthens obliques and back muscles,” Berns said.

Hooping is great for people of all ages and can also be a fun family activity, said Gabriella Redding, founder and CEO of Hoopnotica, a California-based hoop fitness company that sells adult-sized fitness hoops, instructional DVDs and has several hundred certified instructors throughout the world.

The workout burns between 400 and 600 calories an hour to maintain the hoop’s momentum as it spins around your hips, waist and upper body, she said.

“Waist hooping (the first foundational movement we teach in Hoopnotica) targets the lower back, obliques and abs, making the beginner feel successful from the start,” she said.

Learning new hooping tricks also keeps people motivated to practice, Redding said.

“Hoopnotica feels more like play than working out,” she said. “I think that most people have trouble finding time to work out but can find 15 minutes a day to play.”

Hooping has been a popular American pastime since the 1950s when a company called Wham-O coined the term “hula hooping” and began producing their toys for children, Redding said.

Hoop fitness as a form of exercise has been growing in popularity over the past eight years, she said.

“We expect that this is only the beginning of a strong emerging market in play-based fitness models, as Americans grow tired of workout trends,” she said, adding that it’s easy to learn.

There is a difference between adult hoops and children’s hoops, Berns said. Children’s hoops are much smaller and lighter. Putting an adult-sized body into a child-sized hoop doesn’t work very well, she said.

“If they’re too light, they’re really hard to keep going,” she said.

First Lady Michelle Obama, whose “Let’s Move” initiative is working to solve the obesity epidemic, stresses that fitness can be fun, and she talked about hooping in a recent interview.

“If I do have a talent, it is hula-hooping. I can hula-hoop forever. And I’ve been a hula-hooper since I was little. That and double-dutch,” Obama said.

Hoopnotica is offering a 10 percent discount on all purchases through the end of September with the code MOBAMA as a tribute to the First Lady and her dedication to health, a news release stated.

To register for the Inspire Dance hooping class, go to: www.goinspiredance.com.

Make sure to check with your doctor before starting a new fitness routine.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Tracy Frank at (701) 241-5526

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