When I hear the words “burn hundreds of calories” or “get a six-pack”, I think only one thing: hardcore exercise. Images of sweat-busting boot camps, hours spent sprinting on a treadmill, and being attached to some form of torture-looking device come to mind. No thank you. But when someone says the words “exercise”, “fun”, and “flat stomach” in the same sentence, I’m all ears.
That’s where the hula hoop comes in. Yes, that’s right, hula hooping. Forget any preconceived notions you have – school playgrounds or cheesy 80s fitness videos – for the hoop is fast becoming one of the hottest pieces of exercise equipment and can help you burn over 400 calories an hour. You can now get your hands on a hoop and hula the night away in Dubai with Flowground’s Hoopflow classes. Each class is 75 minutes long and takes place at The Fridge, a large warehouse space in Al Quoz.
Rocking up to my first class, I was surprisingly nervous. I hadn’t picked up a hula hoop since I was about eight years old, and I arrived just as the intermediate-level session was finishing. They were hooping with their necks. Luckily Teeba, founder of Flowground and hooping instructor, came to the rescue, embracing me in a big hug before handing me a large, brightly colored hoop and telling me to go for it. Giving it all the gusto I had, I managed to keep the hoop up for approximately seven seconds. Not a great start. But this isn’t the place to feel self-conscious; the atmosphere is incredibly relaxed and you start the class by forming a circle and introducing yourself to everyone before Teeba gives you a mini motivational speech.
Throughout the six-week course, you learn the basic hooping moves and put them into a routine to perform, as a group, at your ‘graduation ceremony’. The music is cranked up so you feel like you’re in a club, and there are opportunities to ‘free-flow’ throughout the class, allowing you to switch off, and – more importantly – to have fun. Aside from learning how to actually hula hoop (by the end of the class I could keep it going and I could hoop using my arms), it really is a full-body workout and you work up a sweat whilst seriously shaping your core and improving your strength. As Teeba describes, “It’s a combination of art, self-expression, and meditation”. You can also buy a hoop to take home so you can practice anytime, and they fold up, making it easy to get your hoop on at next weekend’s beach party.
One thing that’s definitely worth checking out is the Monday night ‘Hoop Jam’, which takes place in the streets of Al Serkal. Live DJs and hardcore hoopers spinning their magic with LED-light hoops make for one truly magical experience. Whether you just watch from the sidelines or get involved, you’re transported to what feels like a cool hippy festival and a whole different hooping world. And once you’ve had your first hoop hit, that’s one world you’ll definitely want to be a part of.
Flowground Hula Hoop Classes, AED 750/SAR 766 per six-week course, flowground