Grab a hula-hoop for great exercise
by Rory Doyle
Dec 05, 2012 | 3562 views | 0 0 comments | 22 22 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Ann Ross McWilliams (second from left, standing) is a certified hula-hoop instructor who teaches classes at the North Sunflower Medical Center in Ruleville and private classes throughout the region.
Ann Ross McWilliams (second from left, standing) is a certified hula-hoop instructor who teaches classes at the North Sunflower Medical Center in Ruleville and private classes throughout the region.
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A classic craze is making a comeback.

While some consider the hula-hoop merely a toy, Ann Ross McWilliams will convince you otherwise.

McWilliams, who works full time as a hooper, is a certified instructor leading classes and private sessions throughout the Delta.

"Hula-hooping is great exercise in disguise," she said. "It's been compared to boot camp training because you can burn between 300-600 calories in an hour, depending on how you use it."

The dedicated hooper of four years said she is proof that the activity is beneficial to the body in many ways.

"Not only is it fun exercise but it can also be really therapeutic," McWilliams said. "I used to have a bad back, but hooping every day has kept me from getting shots."

She's also seen positive results from the adult students she teaches twice a week at the Beacon Wellness Center inside the North Sunflower Medical Center in Ruleville.

Her classes combine the movements of hooping with elements of dancing and fitness.

"We know Mississippi is in need of new ways to get people to exercise — to fight obesity and diabetes. I have students with diabetes who no longer need injections."

Based in Greenwood, she also teaches adults and teens twice a week at the Twin Rivers Recreation Center and ROC, but her goal is to build a happy and healthy hooping community throughout the region.

McWilliams sees through her students that a session of hula hooping is also good for the mind.

"If you're in a bad mood, pick up a hoop and see what happens," she said. "You'll notice a change in attitude real quick. It's helpful in so many ways."

Not everyone can get the gyrations down as the hoop spins around the hips, and McWilliams admitted it took her over two weeks to get her groove.

"The key is not getting frustrated. It's too easy for learners to get discouraged quickly, but I tell new hoopers to stick with it and the flow will come.

"Once I started hooping every day I started to feel more fit," she added. "I had more energy and I felt enthusiastic and inspired."

As the flow is mastered, the hoop can work muscles from head to toe as it's spun around the neck, shoulders, arms, waist, legs, feet and more.

Along with energetic classes, McWilliams is making a name for herself by designing and selling personalized hula-hoops.

"I've had people from as far away as North Carolina and Arizona order hoops," she said. "I have a lot of fun decorating them with sparkling and shiny designs."

For more details about joining her classes and hoop designing, visit Ann's Southern Hoops on Facebook.

"My hope it to have more people of all ages interested and to create a bigger hooping community," McWilliams said. "Hula-hooping is a very accessible activity that's fun and good for you.

"I've found it's also a darn good way to get my body looking the way I want it to look."