Courtesy, Kristin Benton & Ashley YorkAfter having her first child eight years ago, Kristin Benton weighed 223 pounds and wanted to lose some of that baby weight. Slaving away at the gym sounded boring and expensive, so she was anxious to figure out another option.
When one of Benton’s friends mentioned his wife had taken up hula hooping, the new mom was intrigued. A cheap hoop wouldn’t require a pricey gym membership or for her to spend her rare free time at a fitness center.
Benton started hula hooping for just half an hour each night while her husband watched TV. She figured it would be healthier than just sitting on the couch, but she didn’t expect the pounds to melt away. (Don’t miss the secrets of women who manage to get in a workout every day.) Within two weeks, Benton already noticed results, and she kept shedding about two to three more pounds every week. After about six months of nightly hula hoop sessions, she’d lost 40 pounds. “I thought, ‘This is an activity and a way to be active’ but didn’t go into it thinking I’d lose all my weight,” says Benton. “I didn’t know it would change my life.” (Want to change your life? Try these calorie-blasting workouts.)
Seeing what a difference one lifestyle tweak could make, she decided to make even more healthy changes. She started paying attention to what she ate and hitting the gym to tone up even more—but she never gave up her love for hula hoops. “Hooping has remained part of my active lifestyle and fitness routine,” she says. “It was a gateway exercise and opened the door to so much.”
When Benton got pregnant with her second daughter, she regained some of that weight. But this time, she had a plan. With the help of hooping, she shed those pounds, and has lost a grand total of 48 pounds since her first pregnancy. Whenever friends asked her secret to losing the post-baby weight, she was eager to share the answer: hula hooping.
Hoping to share her fun workout with other women, Benton started a hula hoop fitness class. After five years as owner of Happy Hoops in Nashville, she closed those doors to pair up with a business partner and create FXP Fitness. The company has classes in 42 states, plus a series of workout DVDs.
Via Kat Suwalski
FXP Fitness uses hula hoops, but at two pounds and 41 inches in diameter, they’re not the wimpy little ones you’ll find at Toys “R” Us. And Benton has spread beyond the traditional hip-swinging movement too. She uses the bigger, heavier hoops a program that has elements of yoga, pilates, and barre. “You use the hoop for balance and support, and use it for resistance,” she says. “It strengthens muscles through resistance training and for stretches to create long, lean muscles.”
Her routine has changed form, but Benton still swears by hula hooping for keeping her in shape. “I’m mostly muscle at this point and feel really healthy and strong,” she says.