Tuesday, September 20, 2011

How Groovy!

Hey everyone!

I have been missing in action a bit if you haven't noticed! I've been home visiting with family and friends and have started a new job so I've been busy. Of course, working out sort've fell by the way side. Don't get me wrong, I squeezed it in here and there but none of my workouts was worth writing about. Until last night, that is.

Back in the City I love for the past five days, I finally managed to get back into the groove of bringing my (slightly larger) behind to a gym for a proper workout. Well, "proper" may be stretching it...

Introducing, GROOVE HOOPS! My local YMCA (on 14th between 1st and 2nd for those of you in NYC) offers this class on Mondays at 8 PM, directly after their Punk Rope class. You remember when I took that one, right? I enjoyed it but it kicked my butt and I was reminded just how horrible my coordination can be! This time around, I definitely experienced deja vu as I tried to keep my arms and legs in some sort of semblance as our class progressed. But let me start at the beginning.

Here's the entrance of the 14th Street Y.

Groove Hoops was led by Stefan, an adorable curly haired blond with awesome capris. I actually arrived at the Y a couple of hours early because I wanted to get in a regular workout (some cardio, a bit more work on my legs, and a bunch of core work) before the class. As I worked out on my own, I grew pretty excited about the class.

Here, I must tell you something not many people know about me. I happen to be AWESOME at hula hooping. No really I've, like, won contests and everything! During the summer between second and third grade, when I attended a day- camp around the corner from my home, there was a hula hooping contest and, after no less than an hour and eleven minutes of non-stop hooping, I was named the champ. It is definitely a top ten moment from my childhood... 

So again, I was really looking forward to Groove Hoops- I just knew I'd be in my element. That said, I didn't really know what to expect- Have you ever heard of a class like this?

Well, in a nutshell, the class wasn't what I thought it might be. That's not to say it wasn't fun (it was!) but rather than break the class down by focusing working on specific muscles, Stefan taught us a bunch of tricks. While we were still "active", it wasn't nearly as intense as I think it could have been.

Luckily, we established rather quickly that we could all hula hoop decently (i.e. keep the hula hoop swinging around our waists for several minutes at a time). The first few tricks that he taught us involved turns. Typically, when a person hula hoops, she naturally throws the hoop either to the left or right, often without noticing her preference. For example, I always use my right hand to throw the hoop to the left to get started; I don't think about this before I do it, I just do it. Stefan explained that whichever way you throw the hoop, an easy (but cool looking!) trick is to turn your body within the hoop in that same direction. If you do this just right, the hoop actually stops moving as you turn then continues on its way as you stop back in your original position. I mastered it.

Feeling pretty dang awesome, I welcomed the next lesson. ... And it's fair to say I failed miserably at it. It involved tossing the hoop around our hand. Now, to be fair, I have a pretty severe nerve damage from an accident I had back in 2007 so having the hula hoop pressing against it over and over again as it swings around isn't the most comfortable thing in the world. Still, I can't use that as an excuse- I just plain stunk. If there is more than two steps in a move and at least one of them is done behind my back, it will take me awhile to get the hang of it. I did eventually improve but I still couldn't twist the way Stefan showed us. Oh, and I have bruises forming already on the backs of my hand and up my arm from the hula hoop pressing against my skin.

One of the last tricks Stefan showed us was allowing the hula hoop to gradually drop from spinning around your waist to spinning around your knees. This is TOUGH and I never quite got it. The best I could do was keeping it around my knees for about six seconds before it clattered to the floor. Dangit. My almost third grade hula hoop pride declined a bit every time dropped it.

Stefan showed us a few more tricks but they were so advanced that, unless you had all of the other tricks down, it was impossible to even attempt. I happily spun my hula hoop around my waist (two at a time, even!) for the last fifteen minutes of class, dignity (back) intact. Some people, like this girl to the left, were pros and could do a bunch of tricks!

Also, check out this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jIeuA81cv1Q
The woman in it wasn't in my class but that's definitely the same gym we were in- Would've been cool to see her live!

Bottom Line: I probably wouldn't take the class again. I love hula hooping and I'll be the first one to give it a go when I see a hoop sitting around but the class didn't blow me away, despite Stefan's enthusiasm and genuine friendliness.

Pros: The class is held inside the 14th Street Y which means I get a lot of bang for my buck. I was able to get in a great workout in their main gym and, though I didn't take advantage of them, I could've enjoyed their sauna and pool for no additional cost if I'd wanted. The staff at the 14th Street Y is very nice and helpful- I spoke to three of them during my visit there and I found them all incredibly helpful and polite. This must rub off on the clientele- Everyone's very chill and NOT pretentious at all, unlike some gyms. It's definitely a kid- friendly gym. Not that they're out on the main floor but you do see parents picking their kids up from swim practice; actually, there were even these two adorable little boys- no more than four years old- who brought their own miniature- sized hoops to class and participated on the side as their mother took the class. It really added to the class ambience (and I'm not "kid- friendly", per say).

Cons: Like I said, the class format wasn't what I expected. While I enjoyed learning new tricks, I didn't feel like I targeted any area of my body in particular and that's not what you want when you "work out". Or, I don't at least. Secondly, the time of the class could be better. Eight o'clock at night on a Monday is tough for most of us. Even an hour earlier would have been a lot better.

So what do you think? Would you have been tempted to try Groove Hoops like I was? Should I give it another shot sometime? (Or just buy my own hoop and spin to my hearts content on my own?!)

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