I was quite the expert hula-hooper when I was 9 years old. I could keep a hoop going round and round and round for what seemed like hours. So what made me think that it would be so easy 30 years later?
It was with slight trepidation that I approached Miky’s hula hoop class, held in a church hall in Moseley. Trying to find a new and novel way of getting fit which wouldn’t result in me giving up after a couple of weeks, I stumbled across the idea of hula hooping. Seemed like a good way of toning my tummy without having to result to endless crunches and planks; toning my arms without lifting heavy weights; toning my legs without lunging and squatting; and raising my heart rate without clutching my chest and gasping for breath in an aerobics class. In other words I was looking for something with minimal effort but maximum impact.
24 hours later, I can confirm that there was indeed effort expended. There is a suspicious looking bruise on my right hand, a random ache in one thigh, chest muscles which feel like they’ve been squeezed in a vice, and an aching right wrist that I don’t notice until I try to use a stapler at work.
I’d messaged Miky beforehand via the Birmingham Hula Hoopers Facebook Group to check that I could just drop in and didn’t need to book. Miky confirmed that all levels were welcome and to just turn up at 6pm. There was a bit of confusion when I turned up ridiculously early and wasn’t sure if I was in the right place, but the appearance of a lady with a whole bunch of hula hoops confirmed that this was in fact the right place.
There was just half a dozen of us in the class, and I soon realised that I was the only novice. Everything I had ever learned about hula hooping was gone in a flash. Big wild circular movements with your hips. Nope. This leads to the hoop being somewhere around your ankles very very quickly. Move round with the hoop, Miky says. I pivot. The hoop does not. My fellow hoopers are learning some fancy movement involving bringing the hoop over your head and skipping through. I concentrate on spinning the hoop on my hand without releasing it like some monster Frisbee. Hence the bruises.
I finally master the Lasso movement, like a hula-hooping cowboy. Miky thinks its time for me to step up a gear. I disagree. My attempt at following the sequence is in such slow motion that I’m almost on freeze frame. Should my hoop be going clockwise, or anti-clockwise? Should I be using my left hand, or my right hand? Should my palms be up or down? Miky patiently talks me through, and does not get frustrated when my hoop ends up somewhere down the other end of the hall. Frequently. However I refuse to be beaten, and luckily my fellow super-duper hula-hoopers are also patient, and don’t laugh (out loud anyway) at the uncoordinated newbie in the corner. I almost cheer when any of them drop their hoops – “see, they’re just like me!” – until they pull back their hoops with an outstretched toe, flip it over their head and perform a cartwheel to finish. I exaggerate.
I like the stretches at the end. I can do those. 58 minutes of being a total clown, and two minutes of poise and elegance.
I may be the world’s worst hula hooper. But oh my, I had fun. The muscles that hurt most after the class? My cheeks, from laughing so much. Never fear super-duper hula hoopers, I shall be back in two weeks time. Bring a crash helmet.
Wednesday nights, 6pm-7pm at St Columba Church Hall, Moseley. £5.