Hoops and balls put the fun back in exercise

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      A hit in 30 minutes
      Looking for something more intense than yoga? Those wanting a serious sweat might want to check out the 30 Minute Hit, a fast-paced workout aimed at busy women who want to add a little punch—and a few kicks—to their fitness regimen.

      The circuit-style workout incorporates elements of boxing, kickboxing, self-defence, and core strengthening. Each of the 13 stations lasts two minutes, with a 15-second break in between. When they’re not hitting punching bags, participants exercise with medicine and Swiss balls.

      Program director Deanna Loychuk tells the Georgia Straight that the workout is “empowering” and yields “quick results”. “Once you start boxing, it becomes very addictive,” Loychuk says. Another bonus is there’s no set start time: because it’s a circuit, you can get going whenever you want. With locations in North Vancouver, Port Coquitlam, and Surrey, the 30 Minute Hit will also be opening a Vancouver franchise this spring.

      > Gail Johnson


      Rolling for health
      If you’re tired of the routine of your yoga or Pilates class, you might consider body rolling. Also known as small ball myofascial therapy, body rolling combines fitness and massage in a series of exercises designed to improve circulation while increasing flexibility and strength. Developed by Yamuna Zake, a yoga teacher struggling with an injury she suffered during the birth of her daughter, routines involve rolling your body over six- to 10-inch balls of varying densities, stimulating nerves, muscles, tendons, and bones much like chiropractic work and massage therapy. Because of its low-impact nature, body rolling is ideal for those recovering from surgery or an injury. The best part is that the balls deflate, so you can take your equipment with you when you travel.

      Classes are popping up all over Vancouver. ProActive Pilates (2685 West 4th Avenue) offers an eight-week body rolling course, while Micheline Gauthier of Roll Your Body! teaches classes at various venues around town. Certified body rolling practitioner Saskia Soeterik also gives three-hour body rolling classes each month.

      > Miranda Nelson


      Shake your booty
      If you’re having trouble motivating yourself, consider enrolling in a boot camp. There are lots to choose from, including Georgia Straight Best of Vancouver winner Survivor Bootcamp, Peak Fitness Bootcamp, and Resurrect Your Body Boot Camp. “You don’t only burn a certain amount of calories during the workout,” Tyron Piteau, owner of Resurrect Your Body Boot Camp, told the Straight in a phone interview. “After the workout’s over and for hours after you’ve finished, you’re still burning calories at an elevated rate.”

      But if dropping and giving 20 is just not your thing, don’t despair; there is an assortment of boot camps to be found around Vancouver with different themes and routines. Cardio-Core Boot Camp, for example, offers a boot camp just for kids, complete with obstacle training, as well as a Bridal Boot Camp, intended to whip your entire wedding party into shape before they meet with the photographer. EasySalsa Dance also offers a boot camp, with a focus on salsa dancing. “It’s a more intense, condensed version of the full 12-hour program,” explains instructor Tony Boutros. “It’s good for people who cannot commit to a weekly schedule.”

      > Helen Halbert


      Let the games begin
      Winter isn’t the best time to embark on a new exercise regimen. Cold mornings keep you in bed and dark evenings have you rushing home to the couch. And so Nintendo’s Wii Fit and Wii Balance Board may be your best options for shedding persistent holiday weight.

      Together, the game and accessory let you enjoy a wide variety of activities in the warmth and comfort of your living room. Take part in a virtual yoga class, ski or snowboard down one of Nintendo’s digital mountains, or even pretend you’re walking a tightrope. And all the while, Wii Fit will keep track of every ounce you drop.

      “It’s been a really neat tool to make it fun and easy for someone who may not necessarily be that keen on doing exercise,” said new Wii enthusiast Magdalena Blasiak.

      She told the Straight that she and her boyfriend purchased the Wii a week ago and have been tracking their progress. “It is frightening how accurate and precise it is,” she added. “You feel your body wobbling a bit and then the trainer tells you exactly what is going on and how to improve.”

      > Travis Lupick


      Hula-Hoop fun
      Remember all that energy you used to have as a kid? Fitness regimens don’t have to be all work; some activities feel just like child’s play.

      Personal trainer Anna Wong has some of her clients bounce on trampolines or twirl Hula-Hoops to keep in shape. To vary the routine, Wong suggests completing these cardio workouts between sets of strength training, but these exercises can also be done by themselves for 30 minutes.

      “The Hula-Hoop is really good for the core and for trimming the waistline,” Wong told the Straight by phone. “Beginners may find it a bit hard to control their body, but it’s really fun and really easy with practice. You’ve just got to make sure you go in both directions and work muscles evenly on both sides.”

      Hula-Hoop classes, like other offbeat exercises such as hot yoga and pole dancing, are gaining popularity around the city. The Drive Dance Centre offers Hula-Hoop and dance classes.

      >Helen Halbert