Jaqui's Daily Blog

The Art of the Hula Hoop

I was always useless at it as a child so I had no reason to believe I might have magically mastered the skill at my Great Age. As I remember it, however hard I gyrated my hips, swivelled and turned, even sent up a prayer or two for good measure - my efforts were always All In Vain.


I am talking here about the Art of the Hula Hoop, that exercise ring which swept the world in the Fifties and Sixties. Children have, of course, been playing with hoops of various sizes and materials for thousands of years - but the modern plastic version was first manufactured by Arthur “Spud” Melin and Richard Kerr in 1958. Apparently “Spud” stole the idea, and the name, from one Joan Anderson who brought back a wooden hoop from Australia and came up with the name at a dinner party. She was promised a share in any profits but received not a penny. Which only goes to show that you should never trust a man called “Spud” and should stick to safe subjects at dinner parties. Like Brexit.


You may be thinking that I am digressing once again but, as you know, digression is part of the charm of the Daily Blog (if only in my humble opinion) and anyway I do like the Blog to come over all educational every so often.


Back to the point - this afternoon I attended my first ever class at the new gym I have joined - regular readers will remember it is a gym specially aimed at those with Dodgy Knees and Rickety Joints. Even so, I didn’t want to be tested too quickly, which is why I decided to join the Beginners Class, run by a fella called Enzo. According to the blurb on the flier advertising the class, it is suitable for a wide range of abilities and includes cardio, strength and balance exercises and uses equipment such as dumb bells, Swiss balls and balance boards. Please note that there is absolutely no mention of hula hoops...


There were ten of us in the class, three gents and seven women, one of who was wearing a colourful maxi dress. Maybe, I thought, I shouldn’t have worried too much about wearing appropriately sporty attire. I had opted, in case you are interested (I know some of you like the detail) for my joggers and my “Dozey Cow” tee-shirt which has proved itself to be an excellent conversation starter over the very many years it has featured in my wardrobe. 


Enzo the Effervescent took us through our warm up (such an appropriate description - I was extremely warm even before we started on Proper Exercising) then pointed out the ten different stations on our circuit. There were the dumb bells, the balance board, the balls to be thrown at the wall and caught (or, in my case, mostly missed), not forgetting one of those boxing punch-bags, presumably in case we needed to work off our aggression. In the very centre of the room - yes, you’ve guessed it - a hula hoop.  


Enzo demonstrated his excellent hula hooping skills to general whooping from his audience. We could, if we wanted to, opt for a more gentle exercise, stepping in and out of the hoop, he explained, in a voice which suggested that those of us who did so were proper spoil-sports. You know me, I hate to disappoint - but, really, was I up for it? The shame! The ignominy! 


I remember when granddaughter Katie, aged about eleven, tried to teach me, belatedly, to hula hoop - she was very, very good at it, keeping her hoop twirling for endless minutes. Despite her patient tuition I was no better at it than when I was a teenager. All I could hope for, I decided, was that none of my companions would be prepared to try their skill at hula hooping.


I should have known better. One by one, almost everybody took up the challenge: every successful twirling drew loud applause from us all. Everybody said it was like riding a bicycle - you found yourself remembering the skill from your childhood. Which was all very well if you actually could hula hoop as a child / teenager.


The only person who didn’t try his hand at the hula hoop was the guy on crutches - which made it even more difficult for me to opt out. So I did my best which was every bit as disastrous as I thought it would be. An Epic Fail, in fact. I received a consolatory - if half-hearted - clap from my companions before moving on quickly to the two chair exercises which I attempted to execute brilliantly so as to prove I wasn’t a completely Hopeless Case.


It’s years since I last participated in a gym class and I really enjoyed it. I must have done because I went straight out afterwards and booked up for next Thursday’s session.


Enzo the Ever-Hopeful says next week we could try twirling a small hoop on each arm, at the same time as hula hooping. It will be excellent exercise, he reckons.


I presume he’s joking? 


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Latest comments

23.04 | 20:15

lovely and heartwarming - an inspiration to us all x

09.03 | 12:07

Love this story told as ever beautifully.x

10.11 | 21:31

What a super account of a special event. I loved meeting you last night and seeing your creation come together. I’m so pleased you got so much from the activity

07.09 | 13:17

I have broad shoulders x

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