Written by Gjenae Rosekelly

Let me begin by saying I’ve tried every fitness fad there is.

Rollerblading? You bet my mum enrolled me into those Saturday classes where they make you blade off ramps.

Giant trampoline parks? You couldn’t get me out of the pit! No, literally. Those soft square foam balls are unforgiving bastards.

Zumba? I spent weeks encapsulating a saucy Spanish senorita to my finest capabilities (although my hips definitely did lie).

Hula-hooping was a natural transition for me, and it didn’t goddamn disappoint.

You enter ‘Workshop,’ a large warehouse space with walls canvassed over by colourful artworks and neon quotes- it’s an authentic and artistic den for creatives.

The lovely teacher Phoebe, who goes by Phoebe Linguini, greeted me. I immediately mourned over my lack of a badass nickname, rolling with the ol’ first name as I introduced myself, and admitted to being a complete amateur on the hoopla scene. With sparkling holographic winged eyeliner and a tie-dyed crop, Phoebe was flinging a hoop between her hands, arms, and legs whilst simultaneously spinning the hoop with as much ease as downing your 10th shot on a night out.

I really hope we aren’t expected to be doing that… I thought to myself. If she got me successfully spinning the hoop on my arm without taking out my or someone else’s eye then I would consider today a success.

The lesson begins with your precautionary stretching, and we’ve got around 15 people in the class. The two ladies beside me also admit to being un-coordinated amateurs, and you bet my comfort levels at this point have started escalating. Phoebe encourages us to all make hilarious and grotesque faces while we stretch our necks, and the room is immediately laughing at one another, although I’m secretly trying to out-ugly-face the girl directly across from me because I’m a competitive prick.

We select two hoops to befriend for the next few hours- one larger and one smaller. We start with the large hoop, transporting ourselves back to our primary school days as we spin it around our waists. Phoebe instructs us on how to nail this basic maneuver (you’ll only learn the secrets if you take the class) and then to try walking in a straight line or a circle. You’ve seen those videos of giant pandas walk two steps then fumble over themselves right? A beginner attempting to walk straight whilst hula-hooping looks exactly like that.

We move on to the smaller hoop to perfect the simple motion of spinning the hoop on your forearm, and quite quickly everyone is a pro. We’re all promoted to swiftly swapping the hoop between arms, and all I’m thinking is I should probably take this up professionally because I’m killing it.

Phoebe is constantly helping people individually with a trick they’re struggling with, and her constant uplifting words are like a beautiful chorus of positivity. Since we started a smile hasn’t dropped from her face, and I can tell everyone is enjoying being blessed with her sparkling presence.

Time flies when you’re busy being a badass hoopla ninja, and we all finish with more stretching. We’ve learnt to spin the hoop on a speedy axis then jump through it, twirl the hoop above our heads (seriously not as easy as it sounds) and even hula-hoop with our necks.

The neck maneuver is definitely a ‘do not try this at home’- there is a safe way to do it that doesn’t bruise. I ask Phoebe if a hoop neck bruising looks like a hickey, and she tells me it looks more like you’ve been whipped. I wonder to myself what one would sound worse having to explain it to my dad. Ok, definitely the second one. But hey, looks like I’ll be blaming it on hula-hooping from now on!

Hoops was a hit, an exciting way to sneak fitness into my week and I can’t praise Phoebe Linguini, the queen of hoops, enough.

Next Hoops class with Phoebe Linguini is 24th October. Grab your tickets through the Workshop site and bring your ugly face game.


Phoebe Linguini turning it up from the moment we met.

Hoop Queen with her Hoop Minions.

I had a little chat to Phoebe, here’s the inside scoop:

What got you into the hooping?

Phoebe: I kind of just did a Google search, I had quite weak wrists and I wanted to do some circus. Trapeze was out of the question, I ended up doing hoops instead and got a bit addicted to it.

How long have you been doing this for now?

Phoebe: I think I’m in either in my 10th or 11th year at the moment.

WOW! How did it become the full time job that it is now?

Phoebe: Gradually and by accident. Generally people want you to teach them things. People noticed that it was flashy, and if they like what you’re doing then they offer gigs and then you end up having to make a website. I don’t any more, I’m kind of semi retired. But that’s usually the way it happens, accidently.

Tell me about some of the coolest things you’ve done through your hooping. People you’ve worked with, events?

Phoebe: We did a Microsoft gig once. We got to sit in on some of their pre meeting ramblings. I heard a bunch of people get in trouble for using Google when they should have been using Bing. We did a launch for Les Mils, which was pretty all out, there were lots of lasers. Mardi Gras is always good. Myself and Caitlyn Woods, who runs another Hoop business, organised a Mardi Gras float. We had 85 hoopers enter, it looked pretty spectacular

Do you ever have fire on your hoops?

Phoebe: YES! Yes. Not at Mardi Gras..its not permitted at the parade. But people do like fire for events.

I feel like hula-hooping has become more popular. Does that make you so excited?

Phoebe: It has. It’s really nice to see more people flock to it. It has been gradual, there were the ‘hoop resurgents’ (in the) early 2000s, and since then it’s built and built. If you’re at a park people come up to you and say, “Can I have a go,” and I say yeah grab a hoop.

What do you say to the people who were like me, had never done hooping before, and have no idea what it’s about.

Phoebe: There is nothing stopping you. I’ve never had anyone that can’t do it. Ever. If you try hard enough and get the proper tips you will be able to do it. It’s super fun, you don’t realise how much fun you’re having. And it also doesn’t feel like exercise. If you’re someone who wants to get fit but doesn’t like doing the typical fitness things then it’s more sparkly.

    Testimonials from the class:

“It was really good fun. I thought the warm up and warm down were really great. She taught loads of really great tips.”
– Sally Musselwhite, 32

“I really liked how it wasn’t all just hooping in a circle, it was like tricks and arm spins. It was harder then I thought actually, it was quite the bum and stomach workout!”
– Claire Cassidy, 32