Hula-hoops fun part of fitness routine at YMCA 

Published 7:04 pm Friday, December 11, 2009

The clatter of plastic against the hardwood floor contrasts with the steady beat of Lady GaGa, but fitness seekers just quietly pick up their hula-hoops and return to following Jeanie Cobb’s commands.

10 people, nine females, one male, all follow instructions from Cobb, one of several fitness instructors at the Greenville YMCA, who puts them through a grueling pace: squats, lunges, arm curls, and more.

But all of those exercises are done with a hula-hoop; that circular fun children’s toy that became all the rage of the 1960s. Cobb was cleaning the house one day, found an old one, and thought, what the heck, that might go over well in an aerobics class.

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Cobb calls hula-hooping a “win-win” activity because it strengthens a person’s core – both the back and abdominal muscles – and a strong core helps stabilize the body when performing other exercises.

“The core is known as the ‘powerhouse’ of the body. The stronger the abs, the stronger the back and the same is true for the back…They work as stablizers for each other, not to mention the opportunity to trim inches away from the waist line,” says Cobb. “Another important thing is that we are not pounding any joints while we are reaping the cardiovascular benefits (of the exercise).”

Hula-hooping, like most aerobic exercises, strengthens the heart muscle helps people lose weight. It’s also a great stress reliever, says Cobb.

“The larger the waistline, the more prone we are to cardiovascular disease,” says Cobb.

Hula-hooping with others also keeps the mind active, she says. Enhancing cognitive skills of the brain helps ward off diseases like Alzheimer’s, she says.

The lone male in the class, Wayne Benson, admits he was wary of the hula-hoop at first. He jokes about his coordination not being up to par.

“As you can see, I’m not as good as some of them doing it,” laughs Benson. “I knew they were using it, so I thought I’d come down tonight and try it out…maybe I’ll get to where I’m as good at it as they are.”

Benson seems more comfortable with the weights, and class members push out sets and reps from a variety of different positions. After a few sets, Benson and the rest of the class are winded and perspiring heavily. Cobb’s body-sculpting class, (low weights short rest periods), isn’t bodybuilding, (heavy weights with longer rest periods). It won’t make you into Schwarzenegger, but it will create healthy, toned muscles, while also slimming the waist of fat. Benson is a big fan of Cobb’s yoga class as well.

“I try not to miss yoga,” he says. “Yoga’s not as bad on your knees and it helps a lot with flexibility.”

Cobb says with January (and New Year’s Resolutions) just around the corner, she expects even more YMCA members to start flocking to the fitness classes.

“I generally have 10 to 12 people in each sculpting class, but the number always go up at the first of the year,” she says.

Cobb says she plans on teaching yoga, body sculpting, and will be receiving her certification for Zumba – a hybrid dance-aerobics workout – in February. Cobb also says she and fellow trainer, Cindy Martin, are planning “mini-boot camps” for the first of the year. Martin also teaches a kettle bell fitness class, while Dusty Brogden and Tera Simmons each teach step aerobics.

For class times contact the YMCA at 382-0550.