Spinning around with hoop-ful new ways to get fit at Stratford Circus

PUBLISHED: 15:52 03 February 2015 | UPDATED: 15:52 03 February 2015

Charlene Davies teaches hula hooping in Stratford Circus

Charlene Davies teaches hula hooping in Stratford Circus


Reporter Anna Silverman discovers how the humble hula hoop can help to burn calories and improve flexibility in a whirr of bright colours and lights

Finally it’s here. An exercise class which lets you forget you’re in an exercise class.

If you’re yet to catch the hula hooping bug chances are you’re about to get hooked.

I gave the retro sport a spin to see whether it was just another bizarre fad ­– or something worth signing up for. And I’d go as far to say it’s like being at a psychedelic disco, swivelling your hoop while raving to twerk-tastic tunes.

Of course I was sceptical whether it could be dragged out for an hour long session, let alone a 10-week course.

But it turns out there’s much more to it than throwing a hoop around your hip and tirelessly watching it fall flatly to the floor (there’s a bit of that too).

There’s swivels, turns, arm spins and squats – and that’s just the warm up.

The sport, which was all the rage in the 1950s, does wonders for your mid-rift and is exuberantly fun too.

“It’s a big calorie burner but it’s also very creative,” said hula-instructor, Charlene Davis.

“You can express your style through hooping. Everybody has a unique way. I like mixing house music, dance, Latin and circus.”

Charlene, 32, gyrated onto the hula hooping scene 11-years-ago after a trip to Hawaii.

It was there she took her first hoop for a spin and loved it so much she returned to the UK in search of her own.

The craze hadn’t kicked off yet but she was determined to spread the word.

“There was a couple of us really pushing the scene in London, it was all very underground,” she tells me.

“There were only about 10 hula-hoop instructors here back then. I’ve been part of that rise and I’ve taught thousands and thousands of people and done loads of festivals and visits to schools.”

Within minutes I’m sweating, but this addictive sport makes you keen to carry on.

Plus, it’s fun injecting a bit of nostalgia into a workout – the routine looks to the past for inspiration and the playground game takes you right back to your childhood.

Charlene does at least an hour of hooping a day and insists it’s not the “next Zumba” – but is its own thing.

I ask what the sport can do for your figure, although Charlene’s enviably-toned abs have already answered the question for me.

“It can burn up to 600 calories in an hour and it’s really good for your core strength but gives you an all body work out too,” she says.

“It tones up your arms but the best bit about it is that you don’t feel like you’re exercising. I like to teach in a party atmosphere, so that’s what you get with my classes.”

Charlene runs classes at Stratford Circus every Monday from 7pm-8pm

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