Hoop, hoop hooray! Melanie MacNeil demonstrates that it's okay to take the roundabout way to get in shape.

Author:MacNeil, Melanie
 
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Hooping is back and better than ever! Its rebirth is in a new form, as the popular childhood toy Hula Hoop[R], famous for its craze back in 1958, is now recognized as the latest method for staying in shape. Its benefits include physical, mental and even spiritual improvements that can help keep a body, mind and soul healthy.

According to some fitness experts, hooping is comparable to an aerobic workout, such as jogging, in its ability to raise heart rate, burn calories and cultivate energy in the body. In addition, it can help create strong and toned core muscles, improve flexibility in the hips and spine and promote weight loss. With each rotation of the hoop, internal organs receive a massage, too, as well as the benefit from increased circulation. Hooping can also improve coordination and stimulate healthy breathing. With hooping on the scene, staying in shape can become more enjoyable, and exercise and movement redefined as an outlet for letting go of negativity and unwinding menacing tension.

The emotional benefits of hooping are high, too, and they become evident the minute you let that swirling spiral loose around your hips! Along with a spinning hoop comes an ear-to-ear grin that allows the mind to let go and the feel good hormones in the brain activate. Some "born again" hoopers travel down memory lane as they remember the fun of this childhood fascination. Hooping gives you the permission to play, have fun in the body and learn to not take life too seriously. The repetitive motion of hooping can even become a meditation in motion. The "centering" aspect of this movement can help one find balance, achieve a state of mental bliss, and teach one to be focused on trust in their body. There's a "Zen" to the art of hooping. It's easy to discover the state of "flow" in a hoop once a comfortable rhythm is established. In addition, the movements can create a dance tapping into a form of expression and creativity. The newest form of hooping has graduated from simple waist and hip hooping onto all areas of the body, making it a thorough physical workout. One can learn to hoop on the thighs, butt, knees, ankles, feet, arms, elbows, shoulders, neck, and beyond!

[ILLUSTRATIONS OMITTED]

With the hoop's new reputation in the fitness world, it's now viewed more as an exercise tool as opposed to a toy. Give it a whirl, and see for yourself how hooping can transform play into pure fitness!

HOOPING GROUND RULES

* Contrary to popular belief, the bigger the hoop, the easier it is to use. Find a hoop that when standing upright...

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