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Hula Who? Hula You! Hooping Your Way to Fitness

HoopFit instructor Jeanne Lieder shows off her hoop skills.Bikini season is thisclose to being here, which means it's time to whittle those waists down to Gisele-like dimensions. Fortunately, hitting the mat to get in 100 mind-numbing crunches is a thing of the past. Hulala creator Jeanne Lieder combines elements of yoga, pilates and aerobics with hula hooping in her HoopFit class, which is a workout so fun, the allotted hour feels more like 10 minutes.

The HoopFit method incorporates much of the basic hula hooping you did as a kid, but also includes a heart-pumping cardio warm-up, yoga-esque mat work and lots and lots of hooping with weighted hoops, ranging in heft from about 1.5 to 3 pounds. Lieder warns that hooping can become addictive, and rightfully so. Despite a tender waist and sore bum after my first HoopFit class, I couldn't wait to head to head back to practice walking, pivoting and, someday, dancing with the hoop. Fortunately, I have a natural sense of rhythm, but even for those with as much grace as an elephant, the challenge of keeping the hoop on your body and off the the floor will quickly turn you into a hoop star.

Lieder, whose enviable waist looks like it's about six inches across, became a certified Hoopnotica instructor in 2008 and developed the programs for HoopFit, as well as HoopFunk (hoop dancing) and HoopFlow (yoga-based hooping). "I use the hoop as a tool and really work out with it," she says of the programs she developed and teaches throughout Montgomery County. "We go step by step, start with skills and then build on that."

Lieder teaches HoopFit at Balance Studio, with locations in Rockville and Bethesda; at Yin Yang Yoga Center in Olney, Md.; and at several community centers within Montgomery County, for $15 to $35 per class.

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