Getting fit with a Hula-Hoop

Instructor Jami Doria, of Huntington, leads a class in Hula-Hooping to music at Absolute Yoga Studios in Woodbury. In the back, from left are Kara Murphy and Meggan Murphy, both from Medford, and Joanne Valardi, of Centereach. (Feb. 13, 2013)

Hula-Hoops are on a roll — again. The kids' toy that was all the rage in the late '50s and early '60s is making the rounds as the latest exercise and social trend.

In the past year, hooping has been popular in New York City (just Google “Hula-Hoop," "Manhattan” and “Brooklyn” to find several groups, blogs, websites, classes and related events). Now the hoopla seems to be spreading to Long Island.

GET TO KNOW YOUR HOOP

Before getting started, you should know the proper hooping terminology. Though, technically, you are still using a Hula-Hoop, real hoopers, as participants are known, just call it a hoop.

Unlike the 1950s model, today's hoop often is modified, weighted and designed for creative movements. “There are actually a lot of decisions that go into buying a hoop, especially for me,“ says Evan Davis, a 23-year-old student and hoop-performance artist from Coram, who also teaches hooping at Don Audio in Holtsville. “Recently, with the growing [hoop] fad, a lot more science has gone into what makes hoops react different ways.“ Irrigation tubing, he says, is popular with beginners because it's easily obtained, sturdy and comes in various widths. Advanced hoopers prefer polyethylene for its rigidity, or high-density polyethylene, which is more temperature resistant and more flexible.

Davis can be found in several YouTube videos, where he moves the hoop around various parts of his body, switches hands and shifts the hoop in a rhythmic style akin to dancing. Davis considers this an art form, especially when he performs routines with multiple illuminated hoops simultaneously or hoops lit on fire.

HOW TO HOOP

So, you've got a hoop — how do you master the thing? Davis' class (which runs through March 14) is designed for experienced hoopers. Jami Goleski, 37, of Huntington, who teaches a hoop dance fundamentals class at Absolute Yoga in Woodbury, says getting started is simple.

“I looked it up . . . watched some videos of hooping on YouTube, learned how to make my own homemade heavyweight hoops and began to teach myself.“ After six months of practicing, she took some hooping classes in New York City, while also constructing hoops to sell at craft fairs. “Finding hooping was the best thing that has happened to me since I became a mother,“ Goleski says.

HOOPING FOR HEALTH

Goleski praises hooping for helping her get back in shape after her pregnancy but points out that “hooping is what a person wants to make of it . . . It's not structured like an aerobics class or any other fitness class that follows a structured routine with the sole purpose being strengthening muscles and losing weight.“

Another believer in the health benefits of hooping is Rachel Reich, 33, of East Marion, owner of Five Branches Wellness in Greenport, which features a hooping class. “You use the hoop on the body as well as off, so it's really a full-body workout, strengthening deep core muscles as well as arms and legs,“ she says. “Hooping increases flexibility and balance, and has a positive effect on mood and self-esteem.“

Reich brought in Jamesport's Diane Gunder, another experienced hooper, to teach a class in May. Since then, enrollment has tripled. “When I first started hooping, I could hardly keep it [the hoop] up,“ Reich says. “After a few classes, I was already doing several techniques. I've noticed an increase in overall flexibility and sense of pride in being able to master new techniques.“

WHERE TO HOOP

Creating a Unique Hoop Style Through Personalized Movements: An Intermediate/Advanced Hoop Course with Evan Davis

WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m. Thursdays through March 14, Don Audio, 194 Morris Ave., Holtsville

INFO $25 a class; email Davis at evanhoops13@gmail.com (for experienced hoopers only)

Hoop Dance Fundamentals with Jami Goleski

WHEN | WHERE 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays, Absolute Yoga, 1 Guilles Lane, Woodbury

INFO For fees, call 516-682-9642 or go to absoluteyogastudio.com.

Hoop Dance with Diane Gunder

WHEN | WHERE 10 a.m. Tuesdays, Five Branches Wellness, 430 Main St., Greenport

INFO For fees, call 631-629-6636 or go to fivebranchesgreenport.com.

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