[Hooping.org's Editor Philo Hagen defends hooping as exercise.]
Jennifer Park, who writes for the Western Courier, seems to be seriously in need of a good time. When it comes to hooping for exercise she’s really got nothing good to say about it. In fact, in reference to Kelly Osbourne losing 70 pounds hooping, she doesn’t even really believe her. She writes, “As soon as one crazy exercise concept is accepted, another even more extreme concept is introduced… [Hooping] is the most ridiculous exercise idea I’ve heard about since the Shake Weight… There is no way that [Kelly Osbourne] lost all those pounds from a simple hula-hoop.” While Jennifer doesn’t necessarily believe that Kelly is lying about hooping, she’s pretty adamant that Kelly’s not telling the whole story, stating, “I’m also sure she failed to mention the other extreme dieting techniques she partakes in.” All in all though it appears that Ms. Park’s real problem with hooping seems to be the misguided idea that if you’re having fun doing something it can’t possibly be good for you. She says, “Dancing and playing with toys should not be considered true exercise. These forms of exercise place an even more negative perspective on real exercise, such as push-ups or crunches.” Can you believe that? We’re making “real exercise” look bad. Oh no! I will agree with one thing she said though, and that’s this – “If someone has to choose between running on a treadmill at the gym or swinging around a hula-hoop, most are going to choose the easier option.”
Yes, as someone who generally looks for the easier, softer way to do more, I’ve never been a fan of the gym. While I do, of course, have a gym membership – I live in Los Angeles – getting there is another story entirely. So as a certain national athletic establishment chain silently siphons off their monthly dues from my bank account, I’m a little ashamed to admit that it might even be a year since I walked through their door. So why don’t I just cancel it? Probably because I do really want to be that person. Y’know, the one who is all high on exercise, that’s enjoying their celery and wheatgrass smoothie after another five mile run, the person making Facebook status updates like, “Hey everybody, I’m working out my legs today! I can’t wait!” But the reality is that’s just not in my nature. Exercise can be so much work and after a long day of work all I want to do is play. That’s why my exercise regimen these days is all about having a good time and I have the science to back me up.
Hooping is a perfect exercise option for me. Why? Because I don’t really notice I’m exercising while I’m doing it. I can haul the boombox and my hoop over to the park, crank up the tunes that I love and WOOSH! A couple hours just magically disappeared. Wait, what happened? Where did they go? I was too busy enjoying myself hoop dancing to particularly notice. I was all up in my bliss. I was busy throwing it down. And on lazier days I just turn on the TV and hoop my way through a program, changing directions with each commercial break.
Wanna know a secret? I’m burning more calories than I would be suffering through a boot camp workout. An American Council on Exercise Study found that hooping burns 210 calories in half an hour. It’s awesome at building core strength too – something that couldn’t be more important and nothing does it better than hooping. Furthermore I can tone my whole body over the course of a hoop dance session. And while I might be clocking every passing minute spent on the treadmill at the gym, just trudging my way through my mandatory 30 minutes, when it comes to hooping I tend to workout a whole lot longer too because I enjoy it. So let the rest of ‘em get yelled at by trainers to give them ten more of those and spend an hour climbing up and down little plastic stairs. I’m spinning up the fun in my exercise regimen and I’m loving it.
I’ve also really been wondering about something lately too. If there is truly a relationship between the body and the mind, as so many who know much more about these sorts of things seem to be pointing out these days, wouldn’t it make sense that your body would respond much more favorably and positively to exercise done with a great big smile on your face, something that you want to do and look forward to doing, rather than a workout that you’re already in resistance to before it even begins? Happy exercise truly seems to be the best exercise there is in my book.
These days I hoop pretty much on a daily basis for 30 minutes or more. I occasionally go to the roller rink to skate and while it might sound pretty simple, it seems to work muscles I didn’t even know I had – and it’s definitely playtime. I also try to go out dancing once a week, transforming the dance floor into my gymnasium because it’s something I love to do and and it feels good doing it. After all, if I’m not having fun, I don’t want to play. While Jennifer’s ideas on exercise might be good for some, for me they’re a sure fire set up for personal failure. And while I may be boomeranging within a ten pound range, up and down and up and down that I’m on the high end of again at present, thanks to hooping and having fun I’m still 40 pounds down from where I once was and happily and easily keeping it off. So here’s to exercise being fun and fun being exercise. My guess is we get to live a whole lot happier lives as a result too.
Philo Hagen is the Co-founder and Managing Editor of Hooping.org. He’s been spinning things up online and off since April 2003. Co-Founder of the Bay Area Hoopers and LA Hoopers hoop groups, Philo has performed internationally and has won Hoopie Awards for Male Hooper of the Year and Video of the Year. He lives in Los Angeles, California, USA.