In May of this year, I packed myself into a car with three gal-pals and headed south to Tennessee for the enormous music festival Bonnaroo. I was excited beyond belief to live in a tent, embrace my inner hippie and become one with the swaying, music-loving masses.
While everyone who attends Bonnaroo is worth watching, the hula hooping girls were my favourites. Majestically swaying to the music in their peasant skirts and bikini tops, hair all the way down their backs, these girls would wind colourful hoops around their bodies in a choreographed-yet-totally-natural dance. I would watch these girls with such envy, they looked like friggin mythical creatures from an elvish land!
Luckily for me, Toronto has classes to turn me into my pretend alter-ego of a hippie hula girl. My third and final class with Brass Vixens was a hula hooping class and I was determined to give those girls a run for their money.
I should point out that two years ago, I decided hula hooping was the best way to achieve abs so I bought one, set myself up outside, began to hoop and as soon as it dropped to the floor (which was almost immediately) I said "Nope, this sucks" and left the hoop outside.
Anyway, Shannon (who by the way is pretty much my favourite person at this point) gives me a quick tutorial on how to start basic hooping just in case the seven-year-old in me had forgotten. She has a collection of hoops, all different sizes and weights for optimal hooping. I start off spinning it around my torso and am beyond happy to find that it's just like riding a bike.
Throughout the class we test out tricks and learn how to dance inside of our moving hoop. Those festival girls have nothing on me as I learn to spin the hoop around one hand, then both, then switch to the opposite hand, spin the hoop above my head and lower it around my waist and finally spin myself quickly around while the hoop stops and keeps itself around me. Shannon continues to laugh whenever I express amazement at being about to accomplish these tasks and occasionally screech "I ROCK!"
Here's a short snippet of my inner thoughts:
1 p.m. -- OMG I CAN STILL HULA HOOP.
1:05 -- Can we just do this for the entire class? Look at these hips go!
1:10 -- No, I'm over it. My hips bones are definitely bruised already.
1:15 -- Yes, let's move it to the hands please. Oh...this is for people who actually have co-ordination.
1:20 -- SORRY! Hoop got away from me, you know how it goes. *spin* Oops! Sorry!!
1:24 -- HOLY COW! I'm spinning INSIDE my spinning hoop!! Would it be weird to video this to prove it happened?
1:30 -- Hooping while passing weights back and forth? I'll just continue to hoop, thank you.
1:35 -- Yea, I'm spinning the hoop above my head. No big deal.
1:45 -- Okay, flipping the hoop up with my foot is a definite no-go. I'll just continue to hoop, thank you.
1:50 -- DID EVERYONE SEE THAT?! I passed the hoop from above my head down to my hips!! I'm a natural. And again...ouch, must keep face out of the way.
1:55 -- I could do this all day! Look out Bonnaroo!
End Result: I'm so incredibly proud of what I accomplished inside of an hour! This feels different than a regular workout, it was more like skill training and I was able to totally nail a few tricks. I expected my torso to kill the next day from all the hooping but what hurt most was my hand from spinning the hoop so much.
Effort: There's a lot of work that goes into this session but you totally don't even notice. I was way too busy concentrating on not losing my handle on the hoop to realize the workout that my abs and arms were put through.
Return Trip?: Absolutely. If not to learn more hula tricks, than definitely to show Shannon how I've perfected the ones I've already learned by practicing in my backyard with my own hoop (it's pink and makes a sparkle noise).Read other entries in the series
First up on my fitness calendar was hot yoga. Regular yoga was out of the question since the prospect of searing heat makes my heart flutter. (No seriously...tropical temperatures are a dream). Setting out to find a yoga studio that offers the sweaty class was easy and I settled on Hot Yoga Toronto in the Annex. You have the option of taking either a verbally taught or silently lead class. Personally, I opted for the class with words...it was going to be hard enough to follow. Read the full story
This week I decided to sign up for a spin class at Quad on King Street West. While I had no illusions about being a yoga newbie, I always like to think that I'm an excellent cyclist. Every summer on schedule, I decide to use a bicycle as my mode of transportation and pout until my dad unhooks his from the garage ceiling and cleans it up for me. Newly pumped and shiny, it will sit in my hallway unused because cycling around the city is dangerous and it's so much more fun to walk. But somehow I still like to think I could cycle if I really wanted to. Read the full story
When I first heard about the Aerial Strength class offered by Brass Vixens on Queen West, I have to admit, I pictured something totally different. Read the full story
When I decided to start writing this column, pole dancing was the first and foremost workout that I wanted to try. I enjoy a good night out at a club and might have even won a dance-off or two. So, yea I like to think that I can dance. I always figured that placed in front of a pole, I'd do better than alright. Read the full story
I should point out that two years ago, I decided hula hooping was the best way to achieve abs so I bought one, set myself up outside, began to hoop and as soon as it dropped to the floor (which was almost immediately) I said "Nope, this sucks" and left the hoop outside. Luckily for me, Toronto has classes to turn me into my pretend alter-ego of a hippie hula girl. Read the full story.
I signed up for a Barreworks mixed level class and am told it's a good choice for a newbie like me. The instructor promises an hour of fun, serious core work and ballet-inspired barre stretches. Only opened since June of this year, the studio is the first of its kind in Canada. Developed from the super popular trend in the US, Barreworks promises a lean dancer's body through muscle sculpting, cardio training, core conditioning and deep stretching. Read the full story.
A few weeks into my quest for the best workout, a workout buddy mentioned a machine called The Reformer. While describing its uses, I could not get the picture of an 18th-century torture device out of my mind. This week I was excited to try out MisFit Studio after being recommended by a friend. The studio can be found in an alleyway in a stunning converted old coach house. I initially signed up for a "Kick Ass Mat" class with no expectations whatsoever. When I arrived I was taken for a tour of the studio (did I mention it's gorgeous?) and came face-to-face with The Reformer. Read the full story.
Zumba. Everyone is always talking about Zumba. Whenever I mention my workout quest to friends and family they practically unite in saying "Zumba! Have you tried Zumba yet? Why haven't you Zumba'd?!" Well, listen up you guys, I finally went out and tested Zumba. Read the full story.
If you haven't heard about Kangoo don't worry, you're in a huge group. Not one person I've told of my escapade knew what I was talking about. You've probably seen women at trade shows standing in a booth repping the new workout wearing boots that resemble ski shoes with oval springs attached to the bottom. If you haven't, go to more trade shows! Free swag! Anyway those ladies sell Kangoo Jumps boots to be used while you run, walk or generally work out. Read the full story.
Months and months ago, I attended a show in Toronto where Billy Blanks was appearing for a motivational speech as well as autograph signing. For those of you who don't follow the lifestyles of the fit and fabulous (of which I am not, nor do I follow) Billy Blanks invented the workout known as Tae Bo. A fusion of tae kwon do and boxing, the workout is done to a hip hop soundtrack for extra energetic movements. There's punching, kicking, stepping, crunching and a lot more. Since 1975, Blanks has touted the workout as the "future of fitness" and comes complete with an incredible backstory that made me tear up during his speech. So I bought the DVD. And got it autographed. Sometimes I hate me. Read the full story.
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