Hula-hooping classes, a new spin on exercise, are popping up all over Southern California.
The American Council on Exercise did a study and found that hula hooping burns about as many calories as step aerobics and cardio kickboxing, about 420 calories an hour.
Jackie Hesley, who teaches hooping classes in Los Angeles, said hooping helped her lose 42 pounds last year, and is helping others do the same.
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"It's like a moving meditation, you tend to lose yourself in the movement, then time goes by, because you've had so much fun, you don't even realize that you've been exercising," said the former real estate agent.
The hula hoops of today weigh about 2 pounds and span about 45 inches in diameter, which makes them rotate more slowly around the body, offering greater resistance. In studies, the average heart rate of hula hoopers goes up to about 151 beats per minute.
"We use different size hoops, a really big heavy hoop to start out with to do cardio and fat burning. Then we go to lighter hoops for our arms and legs. You're really using every muscle in your body in a hoop class," Hesley said.
Babette Rickard started hooping because she has multiple sclerosis, and found that hooping helps her with her balance and range of motion.
"MS keeps you from moving, so my goal is to keep moving, whatever I can… and hooping I can do that cause it's not a high-impact sport, and I can stop when I need to so I don't get overheated. So it's really helped me a lot," she said.
And hooping attracts all ages. Claire Allen, 14, said hooping lifted her out of her depression.
"I was just on YouTube and I saw a video and I just had to try it, so I got a hoop, and I taught myself," Allen said.
Perhaps it's because of that additional factor that a treadmill doesn't have -- the happy factor.
"It's fun. I giggle. I drop the hoop and I just move on," Richard said.