I prefer my exercise to be a byproduct of something else. I’m always on the lookout for something new to do, especially to replace attending the gym. I would much prefer to be learning something, aiming for something or just having fun. So I tried PowerHoop…
Toyah Wilkinson is new to Stockholm and brings with her the introduction of the PowerHoop as a way of getting fit. It looks fun. She offers a free first class. I used to hoop as a kid… how hard could it be. Right?
I turned up to the park and wandered around trying to find a small group of crazy looking people holding brightly coloured hoops. Needless to say, they were pretty easy to find. I was a few minutes late and they had already started warming up, so I dumped my stuff, grabbed a hoop and got ready to hula. Toyah introduced herself with a big smile and got me started straight away with little instruction. She explained that we started on our weaker side first, to get the feel of it.
The hoop was heavier than I remember (of course.. it’s a powerhoop!) and I couldn’t remember what motion to use. I naturally wanted to swing my hips in big circles to keep the hoop moving, but Toyah gently instructed me to simply use small motions back and forth to keep it rotating. After our first song (we hoop to hip tunes) we changed sides to our stronger sides and we were off. What a difference! Suddenly I seemed like I had already improved and ready to whirl for an entire song. No, no… Toyah likes to keep you challenged. Once she feels the group has the hang of the basic motion, she then adds arm motions and squats.
As soon we started to add simple arm actions (wings, out, up, down, in..) my concentration broke, my hoop started to fall and my arms began flailing around wildly. I looked more like a raving disco dancer than a PowerHooper. This caused the rest of the group to laugh and hoops started dropping all over the place. Ooops.
We also tried squats (with more success) and walking while hooping (which results in us all looking like ducks or pigeons). I could feel the exercise working my hips, core and back muscles, as well as legs during squats. Although I’m pretty sure all the laughing helped too…
I thoroughly enjoyed my first class and was determined to come back for more. I hung about after class to chat to Toyah who is a friendly, warm and chatty English expat new to Stockholm. This is what I learned from Toyah:
Toyah shows off with two hoops at once. Don’t worry… she won’t make you do this! PowerHoop with Toyah
Where does Powerhoop come from?
Hooping has been around much longer than we realise. The ancient Egyptians and Greeks were known to have either played or exercised with hoops for example. Traditional materials for hoops included willow, bamboo, grapevines and stiff grasses. Today, they are widely manufactured and made of plastic tubing.
Hooping came to Great Britain around the 14th century, where homemade hoops became popular. By the 18th century children were spinning hoops around their waist or rolling them with sticks in the playground.
The hula hoop craze swept the world, selling millions of units worldwide. It eventually died out by the late 1970’s, remaining popular within circus shows, rhythmic gymnastics and the fitness industry. Today hoops are modified in a variety of ways, for different reasons.
The modern Powerhoop is simply a weighted variant of the regular hula hoop. This heavier hoop provides far greater resistance during use. This in turn leads to more muscle activation, more strength gains and a more effective form exercise.
How did you get involved?
Back home I trained at Gymbox in London, where the classes were very diverse.
After my Kangoo class the instructor offered me a Powerhoop and asked if I would like to try it. I recall my hesitation and said that I could never keep a hoop up!
Well, I tried and I succeeded. After just 5 minutes of trying it out I had a great time.
By using very small back and forth actions instead of winding ones, I was able to keep the hoop spinning quite well. The fact that the hoop was weighted helped me to feel where I needed to put in the effort to keep it moving.
After deciding to buy my own hoop I soon realized there wasn’t a formal class available, even though a number of friends from the gym had purchased hoops. We had the space at Gymbox so I took the initiative and started to arrange meet-ups specifically for Powerhoop.
Why is it good for you?
Powerhoop provides an amazing, high energy workout. It’s great for boosting your concentration and coordination. It increases your stamina the more you use it. It offers a great cardiovascular and conditioning workout that also helps with fat loss.
Hooping also improves your core strength and stability, as well as your hip and lower back mobility. Since it’s rhythmic it can also be relaxing and meditating to perform.
Overall, the most accurate word to describe it (as many of my participants have) would be FUN!
What parts of the body does it work?
In just 20 minutes of Powerhooping it can strengthen the following muscles: Abdominals, Obliques, Glutes, Legs, Shoulders and Arms.
Do you have to have a certain level of fitness?
Powerhoop can be practiced by anyone, regardless of their current fitness level. The first step is getting familiar with the hoop and the movement pattern. Once this muscle memory is learnt participants tend to hoop with confidence and are then able to increase exercise intensity at their own pace. New participants can expect some light bruising during their first few sessions. This is normal until their form becomes more fluid and efficient.
Where and when can people get involved?
We run classes twice a week Mondays and Wednesdays from 18:00 – 18:45. We meet in Vasaparken, Stockholm. As winter approaches we’re looking to run classes indoors, as soon as we’ve secured a regular studio space.
You can find PowerHoop events on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/powerhoopstockholm/