Hula Hoop Your Way to being Fit!

This summer, The Domestic Peach is starting to discover new ways to enhance one’s health and fitness. During the month of August, we have hit the pavement to test out some great new fitness practices and try out some wonderful new recipes that are simple and delicious to whip up in the kitchen. For our first feature from our health and fitness exploration, our new Domestic Peach contributor Suzanne Paddock hit the hula hoop and tested out this new form of exercise as one of Toronto’s favourite alternative fitness studios, Brass Vixens. Here is what Suzanne had to say about the experience…

Have you been to Brass Vixens for a class yet? I highly recommend it. Just going to Brass Vixens itself feels like a fun and sexy adventure – far from your routine workout at the gym. Walking into their Queen West studio feels like entering a sultry, feminine boudoir with an air of naughtiness. But just as your mind starts conjuring up bawdy images, the staff warmly and encouragingly welcomes you – immediately putting you at ease.

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Your eyes start to adjust to the low lighting and you begin to notice all the lavish, feminine touches from the damask wallpaper to the dressing room with the heavy velvet curtains. The space feels thoughtful and responsive, like it anticipated your needs and took care of your creature comforts all the while inviting you to let your guard down and have fun. It twists the classic bordello references around to focus on empowering you to occupy this once taboo space in a playful and supportive way.

If taking a pole dancing class seems a bit daunting (although I highly recommend it!), try “HoopVixens” their all levels hula hoop class. I took the 5:30pm Monday evening class with Miss V. Miss V took quick command of the class with pizzazz, and after a few quick fundamental instructions, we were off hooping. You quickly learn the surprisingly subtle range of motion that hooping actually requires and begin to tune into that sweet spot where your body and the hoop move together. Miss V continued her instructions by adding sultry arm sways and coquettish struts to the hooping.

Of course it’s not that easy for everyone. It took me most of the class before I could maintain long intervals of hooping. At first, the loud WHACK! of my hoop hitting the floor punctuated my attempts. I began to feel a bit discouraged but realized, while trying to walk and hoop at the same time, that I am not a side to side hooper but a front to back. After realizing this, I found my sweet spot and could keep the hoop going, which gave me a sense of accomplishment and relief! Thankfully, everyone drops their hoop at some point and as class continues the dropping tapers off considerably as mine did.

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The first half of class focused entirely on hooping targeting your abdominal muscles, and the second half focused on dancing with the hoop, targeting your arms. Miss V showed us how to fluidly move the hoop around with different grips, hand movements and throws, all the while incorporating sexy hip sways and struts. When it moves, the decorative tape wound around the hoop creates an optical illusion that gives this mesmerizing sense of magic about the burlesque style of dance accompanying it. I liked the cardio of the hooping in the beginning of class but really enjoyed the playfulness and enchantment of the second half.

Miss V described the class as “light, playful and sexy”, and I totally agree. While not an intense workout, the class provided low-level cardio and some ab and arm work. But perhaps just as importantly, it does so in this interesting and unconventional setting that brings out the coquettish and adventurous spirit we all have, which I found to be just as invigorating as the exercise itself.

Suzanne PaddockSuzanne Paddock is a freelance writer in Toronto, Canada. Her interests draw from cultural and gender studies, from health and well-being to sex and sexuality.  Suzanne believes in the value of a life examined and rooted in kindness. To contact Suzanne, please email her directly at suzannepaddock@gmail.com, or via Twitter or Instagram.