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It might have ended up as just another passing fitness fad from the 1950s, but hula-hooping appears to have caught on and stuck. The initial appeal is that it's fun, but the hula hoop's lasting value is that it is good for you. Fitness experts say an hour of intense hooping can burn as many calories as an hour-long run on a treadmill. The activity has gained thousands of followers worldwide. Classes in the US are typically offered in gyms and private studios, though enthusiasts often meet in public parks and recreation centers.
It's fun, it's healthy, it's cheap, and it's sweeping America as the latest fitness craze.
Although the exact origins of hula hoops are unknown, children and adults around the world have played with hoops -- twirling, rolling and throwing them -- throughout history. But here in New York City, adults are realizing the exercise benefits of hooping, which fitness experts say can burn up to 400 calories an hour.
First Lady Michelle Obama recently championed hula hooping as a form of exercise for kids, but hula hoop instructor KaytiBunny Roberts says its great for adults too. "It's cardio, but it's much less impact on your knees," she says, "and it's a full body workout, whereas running is like pound pound pound, so it's a lot less damage on your body."
Roberts says she started hooping about a year and a half ago. She says she used it as a kind of therapy after her house burned down and she lost all her possessions. Now, she says she'll never stop.
Ted Brancu is a fitness instructor who also teaches hula hoop classes. "I don't enjoy most sports, honestly, and hula hoop honestly feels more like dancing to me," Brancu said.
Classes like this one at a New York City fitness and recreation center teach students how to twirl the hoop, providing both upper and lower body exercise. Roberts even leaves time for a little improvisation.
Executive assistant Tiffany Lewis started hooping about a month ago, after a heel injury left her unable to do her normal biking and kickboxing routines.
"The more you get the moves down, the more sexy you can feel about it. It's really a good conversation starter too, like people just see it and smile," Lewis said.
Graphite hoops like these sell for $30 - $40 each. But you don't necessarily need a class to learn, Roberts says there are tutorials on the Internet, or you can just get a hoop and teach yourself.