Diane Gunder never felt comfortable exercising in a traditional gym.
Instead, the Jamesport resident, who owns River Rain Renewal Wellness Spa in Greenport, has always sought out non-traditional ways to pursue a healthy, active lifestyle.
With the help of a former classmate, Gunder has found a unique way to satisfy the exercise habits of like-minded people of all ages: by hosting weekly hula-hooping classes at her business.
“It’s a great workout on your core and you’re strengthening your back, your arms and your legs,” she said. “You can burn over 600 calories in an hour just keeping it around your waist. But we’re moving in there, so your cardio is up.”
Situated on the second floor of a former Masonic temple, the spa enables participants to hula hoops undisturbed in a spacious, tranquil classroom that features vaulted ceilings, exposed wood beams and chandeliers.
Tribal drumming is played during every 60-minute class to enhance the experience and increase the intensity, and hoops are offered in different weights and sizes for serious workouts. The equipment is customized with colored grip tape for style, weight and added adhesiveness to the body.
“When you go to the gym, it’s the same thing every day,” Linda Waters of Mattituck said after a recent session. “Coming here makes you feel like you’ve accomplished something. It’s for all ages. I have a daughter in college and she comes with me whenever she’s home.”
Gunder, who hula-hooped as a child, was reintroduced to the activity in 2010 after stumbling upon a video her Sachem High School classmate Jamie Goleski posted on Facebook. She began attending the hula-hooping classes Goleski was leading in Hampton Bays; soon after, the women formed Hip Kids Hula Hoops, which offers children’s parties and camps where kids can decorate their own hoops and learn instructor-guided tricks, dance flow and age-appropriate games.
“It’s great to see the kids move their bodies freely,” Gunder said. “There’s no judgment and they’re outside exercising and dancing.”
The same principles can also apply to adults. After taking the advice of Five Branches Wellness owner Rachel Reich, with whom Gunder shares a workspace, adult hula-hooping classes were added in May 2012.
Liz Morrison of Greenport has been in attendance every Tuesday for three years.
“Before I started, I was squeezing into a size 12,” she said. “I started hula-hooping that September and by January 1 was buying a size six.”
Gunder holds classes for beginners Mondays at 5:15 p.m., while more advanced students meet Tuesdays at 10:30 a.m. Classes are $15 each, with a discounted rate of $10 for students.
Gunder hopes to add more classes to the schedule in the near future, as well as a class for choreographed pieces. She said hula-hooping benefits more than just your body.
“You connect with your inner-child while you’re connecting your mind, body and spirit all together,” she said. “Hula-hooping is for everyone and you can do it anywhere. Just move the furniture in your living room and watch TV while you’re hula-hooping.”
Want to learn more?
For information on class schedules or to purchase custom hula hoops, call River Rain Renewal Wellness Spa at (631) 606-2696. Visit hipkidshulahoops.com for more on children’s camps and parties.