Hooping it up in Pilates class

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Certified personal trainer Nancy Griffin, who some of you may know from her show on community television, "Skinny Jeans Forever," likes to combine workouts.

All of the classes Ms. Griffin teaches at the Peters Community Center in Venetia combine Pilates -- in which she has seven certifications -- with another form of exercise. Four combine Pilates with weightlifting. One combines Pilates with yoga. Another is a Pilates workout geared to improving your golf game.

On Jan. 7, Ms. Griffin held her first class in Hoopilates, her combination of hooping and Pilates.

The older among us may remember the hula hoop craze of the 1960s. (The hula hoop turned 50 in 2008.) It was popular then with children. Hooping, a form of artistic dance, is a fitness craze which appeals mostly to adults.

"It feels like play," Ms. Griffin said. "Thirty minutes of hooping will get you burning calories, defining your waist line, toning your arms and having fun with exercise for a change."

The aerobic workout of hooping combines well with Pilates, which promotes strength and flexibility in the core, Ms. Griffin said. Her class combines 30 minutes of hooping, followed by 30 minutes of mat Pilates.

"It's fun. It's sexy, and it's very aerobic," she said.

The 12 students in her inaugural class agreed.

"I love it. It's cardiovascular. You're out of breath," said Julie Puckett, 44.

"It's supposed to be great for the waistline," said Cathy Shader, 58. "I liked it. But I have to build up my stamina."

A half hour of hooping will burn up to 400 calories, Ms. Griffin said.

"It breaks a real sweat," agreed Michele Blosel, 59. "This [hooping and Pilates] is a great combination."

The class was nostalgic for her, Ms. Blosel said. "I was hula hooping in the fourth grade," she said.

Each Hoopilates class is eight weeks long. The cost is $56 for members of the Peters Community Center, $84 for non-members.

If there isn't one gathering dust in your garage, you'll need to buy a hula hoop. Those used for hooping are larger and heavier than those you may have used as a kid. The cost for most models offered by retailers ranges from $40 to $55. Ms. Griffin will sell you one at cost.

The bigger hoops cost more, but may be better for beginners.

"The smaller the hoop, the more aerobic [the workout] is, because the faster you need to go," Ms. Griffin said.

The next Hoopilates class will run from March 11 to April 29. For more information, call Ms. Griffin at 888-733-7375, or visit her Web site, http://www.skinnyjeansforever.com.

Jack Kelly can be reached at jkelly@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1476. First Published January 20, 2010 5:00 AM


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