It’s about that time in January where the all that initial enthusiasm for a new fitness regime starts to wane. If you’d like a bit of a boost that doesn’t feel like hard work, here’s how with a fun circus twist, hula hoop!

My main performance discipline in the circus was acrobalance. That involved being lifted up, balanced (often upside down) and thrown around and caught by another person. I had to be pretty fit and strong for that. It wasn’t always easy to keep up my motivation for cardiovascular work. Left to my own devices I can be quite lazy with exercise which isn’t an excellent combination when being an acrobat! It does mean that if you’re currently struggling to stick to your own fitness goals, I’ve got quite a bit of experience of being where you are right now, probably more than you’d expect! The key is keeping it as fun as possible, which is why I use a hula hoop, more on that shortly.

I trained as a personal trainer at one of the top institutions in the country. I learned a lot of very useful techniques that have meant I can maintain a good fitness level for myself without spending long hours in a gym getting bored on a treadmill. Exercise needs to be fun and efficient if you’re struggling to keep motivated.

HIIT training is a popular buzz word at the moment. It’s sticking around because it works. If you’re not familiar with what it means here you are:


In a nutshell it means whatever activity you can do that gets you out of breath, you do it as fast as you possibly can, giving it all the energy you’ve got for a short while, say 30 seconds (that’s your high intensity bit). Then you ease off, still doing the activity just very gently for 30 seconds then you repeat the cycle, one full on, one gentle (that’s your intervals). 20 minutes of that is just as good for you as a long gym session of cardio or a long run. Winner.

It is as simple as that. So now you just need an activity to do for your HIIT sessions. It can be anything that gets you out of breath. Running on the spot, star jumps, rowing, skipping etc. Now I’ve listed some things that are commonly used, they work but they aren’t the most fun things and when something isn’t fun, when it feels like hard work, it’s easier to push off your to do list.┬áThis is where the circus part comes in:

Hula hoop!

It’s fun, it gets you out of breath and it’s great for your tummy all at the same time. If you’ve never mastered keeping a hula hoop spinning around your tummy then I’ve created a short how to video below for your to watch. It’s a perfect how to hula hoop for complete beginners.

All you need is a hula hoop, a bit of space, your favourite upbeat music and a wall clock with a second hand. Voila! HIIT made fun. Start with short intervals like 30 seconds as fast as you can, then a minute of gentle, repeat this for 10 minutes if you’re new to it. As you get fitter you can extend the duration and change your interval times so your fast section is longer and your gentle section is shorter. Try and get to 20 minutes. That’s your goal. A great way to stick at it is to be in company when you train. It’s harder to quit when your friend is with you giving it their best shot as well, you’ll both be looking daft and having fun, what better way to keep fit?

Click below to watch my how to hula hoop for beginners video:

Never managed to get the hang of getting your hula hoop spinning? Here’s how! from Nikki Lucas on Vimeo.