October’s “A New Sport Every Month” was Aerial Hoop: a sport epitomised by strength, grace, and flexibility. Well, I decided that possessing one of those three things was good enough, so booked myself on a taster session.
Nouvolution is a new multi fitness studio in Folkestone, offering all sorts of aerial skills classes including Hoop. I like the idea of that strength/grace combo (even though I’m built like a….well, like a bodybuilder…), so I went along to their open day.
(The first person I saw when I got there was a lady from Roller Derby (last month’s A New Sport…) – apparently we are destined to bump into each other at niche sports which lead to bruising!)
After a brief cardio warm up and some mobilisation work, we paired up and headed to a hoop. There were super-high up ones, and ones a bit lower to the floor. We opted to start with the lower ones – a wise decision!
We learned a “basic seat”, “stag seat” and a “scissor seat” with both legs extended – all of these poses with no hands. There was a lot to think about: how to position yourself in relation to the anchor point, hands/grip, balance, and controlling the hoop as you get into the move.
The final move we learned on the low hoop was the “man in the moon” which looks very pretty and relaxed, but feels painful at first. The hoop is a lot harder and thinner than I imagined (I don’t know what I was expecting!) For some of the sitting poses, you need your coccyx and spine aligned with the hoop, your arms tucked behind the hoop, and at least one of your legs hooked around it.
Apparently the pain gets less as you train more (when I did a couple of terms of Pole lessons, I did find that I got used to the pain plus I just managed to ignore it a bit!)
Halfway through the class, we left the low hoop behind – and with it any hopes of looking serene and graceful. The higher hoop was all about inversions, upper body strength, and attempting to hook our legs around a swaying hoop.
The main challenge on the high hoop was using upper body strength and core strength to pull yourself up, let alone actually get into the pose! We did a straddle (an inverted move where you hang from the hoop, then put both your legs up and over your head…) and a few variations of the “Delilah”, including the one in that photo…. The high hoop moves were easier than I imagined – once I stopped over thinking it and just gave it a go, it actually worked. But it was difficult to keep going – my strength and grip gave out!
The taster session was just long enough to get a feel for hoop without running out of energy or hurting too much!
Before I left, I asked our aerial hoop instructor Lucy Shaw at Nouvolution in Folkestone all about Aerial Hoop so you’ll know what to expect if you give it a go. (This is her in the picture!)
Lucy, how did you get into Hoop?
“I discovered Aerial Hoop 4 and a half years ago. My sister and I wanted to try a new fun form of fitness that we could do together. We were instantly hooked, and over the years have performed in art exhibitions and wedding fairs. There are lots of exciting opportunities you can work towards in Hoop, including various competitions and showcases around the country.
“I’m really interested in the circus side of hoop, and that is another route people could go down with this sport. The next step would be to join a circus school (like The National Centre For Circus Arts in London). But you can take it as far as you want – it’s fundamentally a great hobby to enjoy at your own level.”
Do people need any specific level of fitness or strength to start aerial hoop?
“Not at all! You can start aerial with no experience or fitness background. We follow a syllabus to ensure you learn all of the foundations to be able to progress, and always work to your level.”
What can people expect from training in Aerial Hoop?
“A really good cardiovascular workout and increased strength and flexibility. It’s very rewarding, because people tend to notice results and progression very quickly – especially as a complete beginner. Hoop is really addictive!”
Is it all about upper body strength?
“There is a lot of upper body strength, but hoop is about much more than that. And it’s surprising how quickly you build it up. I would say it is predominantly a core focused sport, and we do lots of conditioning exercises to help with this in our classes. So you’ll get stronger, more flexible, and fitter.”
Thank you, Lucy!
A quick mention for Lucy’s next aerial event – The Night Circus at Sutton Valence in Kent, where she’ll be performing aerial arts at a circus-themed pop up restaurant for two nights only (16th & 17th February 2018). It sold out last year, so grab your tickets!
Go and visit Nouvolution’s website and Facebook if you’re in Folkestone – or find your local Aerial Hoop classes wherever you are! It’s a fun and challenging workout. Thank you Lucy & Nouvolution for the taster session 🙂
Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist with 13 years experience in writing content and direct response copy for the fitness industry. Get in touch via Facebook, by sending a message here.