Mastering the art of hula hooping

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Alison Goulding joins the East Durham Belles to see if she can master the art of hula hooping.

The Belles are having a ball

Fitness instructor Jackie Lewis with her hula hoop class at Peterlee Leisure Centre.

Fitness instructor Jackie Lewis with her hula hoop class at Peterlee Leisure Centre.

THE East Durham Belles Project started in 2011 thanks to a £250,000 grant from Sport England as part of the Active Women Fund.

The funding continues until March next year and project co-ordinator Steph Masterman is currently trying to secure funding for it to continue.

Jackie Lewis, from Blackhall, teaches many of the Belles’ sessions, and often learns new classes to keep things fresh.

“I went on a hula hooping workshop when Northern Fitness had its events yearly for fitness instructors,” she said. “That got me into it and I thought it was fantastic, really fun.

“So I came back, bought some hula hoops and we started doing it in the drop in sessions. The ladies think it’s great, most of them hadn’t tried it for years.

“It’s great for working the waist but you can also multi-task and add weights and movement to it and work the whole body.

“I like to get everyone moving about by adding in a bit of direction. You can also move them on your hands to work the upper body. It’s all good fun.

“It’s a bit difficult to hula hoop but practice makes perfect and the different hoops can help.

“I never feel aches and pains after classes but the first time I used a weighted hoop I really felt it the next day.”

The project has spawned successful, independent running, cycling and netball groups and is managed by Wingate Family Centre.

The aim is to encourage women aged 16 and over to join in with some kind of physical activity.

Joanne Walker is engagement and development worker for the project.

She said: “Generally it’s word of mouth that brings new members to the Belles. Our ladies are very good spokespersons for the project and always encourage newcomers to give it a go.

“The creche is very popular and allows mums to come and do the sessions and get out of the house for a bit.”

For more information email Steph at or search for the East Durham Belles on Facebook.