4 Hula Hoop Moves Your Inner Child Will Love

By , Kristin Benton, founder FXP Fitness
After gaining 80 pounds during her first pregnancy, Kristin Benton, was looking for a solution. Little did she know that the solution would lead her on a new path in life, one that would be as much about fun as it was about fitness.
 
As someone who had never been into "fitness for fitness sake," staying fit for Benton was more about sports and more social activities. With 80 pounds to drop, she turned to an unconventional solution: the hula hoop. Every night, she'd grab a hoop, spin it around her waist for 30 minutes and before long, she was 40 pounds lighter. Nine years later, Benton left her high profile corporate job to found FXP Hula Hoop Fitness (now FXP Fitness), which invented the world's first weighted, portable fitness hula hoop with a workout program based upon proven principles of Pilates, ballet barre and yoga.
 
In just 20 minutes with a hula hoop, a 150-pound woman can expect to burn roughly 144 calories, making it a great aerobic burn for anyone who can't stand the thought of running or needs a change of pace from their typical walking route. Reclaim the toy beloved by school children on playgrounds everywhere with these four fun hula hooping moves.
 

You Spin Me Right Round
 

Forget everything you know about hooping—these four exercises with challenge, stretch and delight your entire body. If you want to get a proper workout, be sure to use the proper hula hoop—using one from the toy section or your kid's bedroom is just going to set you up for a lot of frustration. Consider investing in a weighted hoop or, if you're the type who travels often, a collapsible hula hoop that you can take on the go.
 
1. Cardio Waist Hooping

Remember recess? Waist hooping combines the nostalgic fun of playground hooping with your grownup fitness goals. Waist hooping burns up to 800 calories per hour and is the perfect no-impact alternative to running and traditional aerobic workouts, such as dance fitness.
 
Photo courtesy of Chelsea Slay. 
 
Step 1: Start with the hula hoop in the small of your back, then give it a nice level push around so the hoop spins around your waist five to six times without you even moving.
 
Step 2: With your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart and a slight bend in your knees, give the hoop that nice level push and start moving your hips side with lots of exaggerated energy. Your goal here is two to three rotations before the hoop hits the ground. From there, build up to more rotations for a great cardio and core strength building workout that is tons of fun.
 
2. Squats for Two
 
This fun twist on traditional squats will have your glutes feeling strong in no time. The added fun of a partner fires up your upper-body muscles, too. Making funny faces at your partner is worth bonus points!
 
Photo courtesy of Chelsea Slay.  

Step 1: Stand across from your partner with both hands on the hoop. Arms should be fully extended, with your hands at shoulder’s distance apart, and feet should be hip-width apart.
 
Step 2: Have your partner squat as you raise your arms up. Then, take turns squatting as the hula hoop makes a see-saw motion up and down. Be careful to keep your knees in line with your ankles throughout the movement and squeeze your glutes at the top.
 
3. Barre Burn Those Quads
 
With its teeny-tiny pulses, barre classes are the ones everyone loves to hate. With a hula hoop as your barre to go, though, you'll find a lot to love as you strengthen your quad muscles.

Photo courtesy of Chelsea Slay.  

Step 1: Position yourself with feet together and parallel, with the hula hoop a soft arm’s distance in front of you. Fingers are open and long, using the hula hoop for light support and balance. Keeping your core strong and torso upright, bend your knees as if you are sitting down in a chair.
 
Step 2: From this position, lift your heels while pressing your knees and thighs together. Hold this position for a great long and slow burn, or lift and lower your quads while keeping your heels raised for an added challenge. Play with full- and small-range pulses to really target the muscle. Remember: The higher you lift your heels, the more intense the exercise. You can also modify by keeping your heels lower or all the way on the ground, if needed.
 
4. Be Sure to Stretch
 
For a more advanced, full-body stretch, this twist on a yoga Dancer pose is one of the best.  

Photo courtesy of Chelsea Slay.   

Step 1: Start with the hoop in front of your body and a slight bend in both knees. Step your left foot through the hoop and shift your weight into your left foot.
 
Step 2: Lift your right foot and press the hoop into the calf of your standing leg. Draw the hoop up the back of your left leg until you cannot lift your leg any higher.
 
Step 3: Press the top of your right foot gently into the hoop, pushing your foot away from the body as you bring the hoop above your head until your arms are fully extended. Be careful to avoid too much bending or arching in the lower back. Focus in on the stretch in your quad, torso and strength in your arms. Then switch to the other side.
 


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