I Tried It: Hula Hooping for Grown-ups at Ploome

The cardio hooping class at this Northern Liberties studio is a fun new way to torch calories and trim your waistline

Photo by Joe Perri Photography

Truth be told, I’m not a group fitness person. I prefer to blast my iPod  and do my own thing at the gym. But the unconventional classes offered at Ploome in Northern Liberties intrigued even me.

A couple nights ago, I checked out the studio, which opened in August, and tried a cardio hooping class, a heart-pumping introduction to hoop technique. Though the description said no experience was necessary, I did a little research beforehand just to see what was in store. To my horror, I found YouTube videos of people whirling spinning hoops through the air like ninjas, and pictured myself scrambling around the room chasing down runaway hoops for an hour.

Thankfully, my fears were unfounded. The instructor bounded into the room, greeting the class with a peppy smile and assurances that it’d be a fun, high-energy session. We warmed up with some regular ol’ hula-hooping, using slightly heavier hoops; the weight made it easier to keep the momentum going. After just a couple minutes I could feel my core engaging, and the constant, steady movement was starting to work up a sweat.

I also learned that hooping is not just an adult adaptation of a playground pastime. It involves technical foot placement, concentration and controlled movement—no haphazard hip wriggling here. If you’re like me and seriously lacking in the rhythm department, this is the place to work on it.

After the warm-up, the music picked the tempo and the instructor led us through some trickier moves, moving the hoop up and down from our knees to our chests while introducing step patterns. That means you’re moving your legs and hips, and pumping your arms all at the same time. My hoop clattered to the floor more than once, but the instructor never lost patience, encouraging me to just pick it up and keep going. The beat of the music surged again, and pretty soon the studio felt a little like a dance party. The moves got easier as I relaxed and had fun.

When the hour was up, my abs felt noticeably tighter, my arms were fatigued, and I was out of breath and sweaty. But I felt totally energized.

Along with hooping, Ploome also offers unique dance classes using fans and poi, plus barre and Pilates. There are also a few costume—yes, costume—aerobics classes on Sundays. Check ’em out here.

Ploome, 1040 N. American Street, Suite 1001, 215-238-0200. Classes start at $15 for drop-ins, but there are also packages for five, 10 and unlimited classes.