New Castle News

March 23, 2013

Hula Hoop finds new life in Lacy Smith’s retro fitness class

Lugene Hudson
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — Whenever Lacy Smith feels stressed, she starts hoopin’ it.

The toy that kids of the 1950s and 1960s grew up with and referred to as hula hoops is back.

Actually, it never went away.

Smith, who discovered the benefits of hooping several years ago, is now at the forefront of the comeback craze with her business, Hoop Dance Fitness.

She taught herself how to hoop and now she is instructing others who range in age from 5 to over 60.

“It’s the newest way to get fit,” enthused Smith, who can easily spend an hour or two hooping.   

It’s addictive and it’s good for you, she said.

The 29-year-old Wilmington Township resident has always strived to keep in shape with activities like hiking and white water rafting.

But during the winter months, she needed something to stay fit and be fun, too.

Hooping was the answer.

“She fell in love,” with it, described Tara Majors, Smith’s close friend.

Celebrities including Kelly Osborne hoop for fitness, and when Smith is in Florida, she sees people hooping everywhere. A visit there three years ago prompted her discovery of hooping.

In the privacy of her living room, she learned while watching YouTube videos and then started practicing in the yard.

Now, “I put on music and it’s sort of a meditation. I can get lost in it. It de-stresses me. I hoop my worries away.”

For Smith, it’s also a life affirmation that you can accomplish anything if you set your mind to it.

“You just keep trying and don’t give up.”

The benefits were a trimmed waistline and firmed abs — all while having a good time.

Her classes are from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays in the banquet hall of the St. Marguerite Society, Mahoningtown, and from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursdays at Body Structures Fitness, 2040 W. State St.

One woman lost 80 pounds while hooping for one hour each day, Smith pointed out.

Each class begins with a warm-up and basic movements consisting of keeping the hoop up, waist hooping and proper body mechanics.

Then, she helps individuals with their moves. While she concentrates on having participants use their hips and waists, “we slowly work into other stuff and do fun games using the hoop.”

Smith provides hoops for class members, and also manufactures customized weighted and non-weighted hoops.

Heavier, larger hoops are easier for beginners to learn on while the types found in discount department stores are lightweight and make it difficult for adults to hoop, Smith said.

Classes average from 12 to 17 people, but there’s room for more, she noted.

Majors, who is one of those participants, has noticed that her waist is getting more definition.

She observed, “Each week, we build on what we learned the week before. It doesn’t feel like a workout.”

According to Smith, hooping works the abdominals, strengthens core and back muscles, trims hips and thighs, and helps whittle the waist.

“And if you attend a class, come prepared to sweat. You’re getting a real workout.”

Some call her, “That crazy hooping girl.”

It’s a title she doesn’t mind at all.