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Draper Journal

Hula hoop fitness works the core and strengthens core values

Nov 11, 2019 03:03PM ● By Linnea Lundgren

Draper resident Taylor Hansen teaches hula hoop fitness classes for women and girls, a workout that exercises both the mind and the body. (Photo courtesy Taylor Hansen)

By Linnea Lundgren | [email protected]

One of Taylor Hansen’s central beliefs is that of service to others, and she often asks herself the question, “How can I serve more?”  

She found the answer in the humble hula hoop and the fitness classes she’s created around it. 

“It has become a big passion project for me,” said Hansen, a Draper resident who teaches hula hoop fitness classes for women and girls every month at CrossFit Aether Gym in Sandy. 

These classes give Hansen the opportunity to serve those seeking a fun, new way to exercise. And, it’s also a way to serve the community with a portion of each class’s proceeds going to local charities including the Ripple Effect Project, Ronald McDonald House and Operation Underground Railroad.  

Hansen has always led an active life, competing in CrossFit and bodybuilding competitions and making a career as a fitness trainer and coach. But several years ago, she sought exercises less intense than weight lifting. And, around the same time, she was a stay-at-home mom with a new baby and experienced the highs and the lows that come with that. 

“I felt like (exercise) helped me fight any unnecessary sadness and loneliness,” she said of that time. 

Talking with other moms, she learned many struggled with the same things. “I wanted to show them if I can maintain my health, be active, (they can too),” she said. “Spending an hour a day moving really makes me feel good.” After seeing hula hoop performers, she took it up as a hobby and decided to share her love for it by teaching others. 

Her classes, which started last January, are geared to all women regardless of age, fitness ability or body type. 

“Hula hooping is very feminine. It is expressive, it’s playful. It’s a chance to dance and be calm and graceful,” Hansen said. But, make no mistake — hula hooping is also a full-body workout that strengthens the core, improves posture and works mind-body coordination. “It’s an hour packed with a lot of stuff,” Hansen said. 

With a happy hits soundtrack playing, Hansen guides hula hoopers in 5- to 10-minute routines: a warm-up, core work, hand spins and weaves, free flow, and, for the grand finale, a step-by-step choreographed routine. Sometimes, she’ll throw in a twist, like doing the Macarena while hula hooping. 

“What I love about it is I can do tricks, I can drop it and mess up and laugh at myself. I can do silly things and not take things too seriously,” Hansen said. “I think it would be awesome for people to find a love in that, or that it inspires them to find something playful. It is our responsibility to keep ourselves feeling young.” 

West Jordan residents Staci Mower and her 15-year-old daughter Emma come to Hansen’s class regularly. Emma has spina bifida, so the exercises help loosen her hips, plus the class makes her feel included. “It’s fun,” Emma said. “I can mess up. I can do whatever. Taylor engages me with the workout and helps me get to be where I want to be.”

For Staci, who sits all day at her desk job and suffers from anxiety, the chance to have an hour to let loose with her teenager and exercise is a winning combination. In class, she said, there is no competition. There’s just you and a hula hoop. “I feel like I work all my muscles; but I feel my mind is clear,” Staci said. “It just wipes your mind clean. You’re in the zone.” 

While Hansen’s classes are held in the gym, hula hoops go with her wherever she travels (some are collapsible). She often can be seen hooping it up on Potato Hill or at Draper Park where she offers free lessons. There are no limits with hula hoops — all you need is space, she said. And for those who think they can’t get into the hula groove, there is one thing Hansen guarantees. 

“You’ll leave the class knowing how to hula hoop.” 

Visit Hula Hoop Fitness Utah on Facebook for class times.