Circus cheer

Carolyn Armstrong and Hayley-Jane Hulme (top) on the aerial hoop at Gravity Dance Studio, Marton.
Carolyn Armstrong and Hayley-Jane Hulme (top) on the aerial hoop at Gravity Dance Studio, Marton.
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TALK about going through hoops in the name of keeping in shape!

At Gravity Fitness Studio, in Marton, they are doing just that.

Women of all ages can take part in the latest fitness craze, and the studio is the first in Blackpool to offer it. Billed as the class for anyone who has ever fancied being in the circus, aerial hoop is really taking off.

Carolyn Armstrong, who runs Gravity – which is fully kitted out with showers, lockers and a changing area – said: “It’s something different. A lot of women say to me ‘I’ve always wanted to be in the circus’. That’s what it feels like! It’s a great all over workout, but above all it’s brilliant fun. Anyone can do it, all ages, all fitness levels.”

At a basic level – and all beginners start on a hoop suspended from the ceiling at two points, at a very low level – class participants practise sitting, swinging and posing with the hoop. It can be used for dance routines, and those taking part in the class can progress to doing more complex moves and balancing tricks on the hoop.

Carolyn, from Bispham, who herself used to perform at the Tower Circus during the 1970s, and was one of the Tiny Tots, said: “It’s great for toning the whole body, it helps improve core strength and balance, and coordination.

“It also helps improve flexibility, and I run flexibility classes, too, to develop this further. We can set the exercises to music and use the hoop to dance with, they can do some beautiful poses.”

With her dance background and years of experience in dancing and fitness, Carolyn hopes her studio, on Brinwell Road, can entice women who have previously shied away from exercise classes.

“Some of the clients are older ladies, and I think they like to come to me because I’m not a youngster myself. The youngest person I have is 25 and the oldest is 76! So it really is for anyone.

“There’s a friendly atmosphere, and a lot of the ladies come to classes for the social aspect, as well as fitness. They can have a chat and a cup of tea.

“We always work at a low level – safety first. And we also do the aerial silks, which is similar to the hoops, and has the same benefits, as well as being great fun. We do that in smaller groups of three, rather than a class, because it’s more technical.

“We offer a whole range of classes designed to get people in shape, but also have fun, such as zumba, pole fitness and hula hoop.”

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