(Steven Lane/The Columbian)
Hula hoops aren't just for kids anymore.
Ridgefield resident Trina Latshaw has taken a childhood pastime and turned it into a fun physical activity with the creation of her fitness hoops, Phat Hoops.
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Phat Hoops are also available for purchase at Coconut Hut Tanning & Boutique, 1511 Broadway, in downtown Vancouver.
A few years ago, Latshaw and her friend found an old handmade, weighted hoop purchased years earlier. They spent many of the following evenings hanging out, drinking wine and hooping. But they only had one hoop, so Latshaw decided to build her own.
"After a lot of trial and error, I figured it out," she said.
Positive reactions from friends and family prompted Latshaw to get a business license and begin selling Phat Hoops. She spent the summer selling the hoops at athletic events — such as the Vancouver USA Marathon — and other, less health-oriented events. The Vancouver Brew Fest was Latshaw's biggest seller.
She also hosted the Clark County Fair's hoop contest and worked with nonprofit organizations and schools to get kids hooping.
"It's been a wild ride," she said.
Phat Hoops are made with 1-inch piping, filled with water and wrapped with colorful tape. The hoops have a diameter of about 38 inches and weigh about 2 pounds. They're handmade, so the size, weight and colors can be customized. The hoops sell for $35 and come with a one-year warranty.
So far, Latshaw said the response has been great. Her youngest Phat Hoop client is 4 years old; her oldest, 82.
"I've never seen somebody so excited to hoop," Latshaw said of the 82-year-old woman.
"That's the coolest thing, how happy it makes people," she said. "And it's good for you."
Latshaw has experienced the health benefits first hand.
When she started using the fitness hoops, she shaved 2 to 3 inches off her waist and noticed a more toned tummy. The constant hip and spine movement also helped strengthen her lower back muscles, she said.
"It's a core strengthener. It tones your muscles," Latshaw said. "It builds coordination. It builds confidence."
The American Council on Exercise researched the calorie-burning effectiveness of hooping and discovered the exercise burns an average of 7 calories a minute — more than step aerobics and nearly as much as boot camp classes — for a total of about 210 calories during a 30-minute workout.
The study participants used weighted hoops during the workout and had an average heart rate of 151 beats per minute, which is about 84 percent of the age-adjusted heart-rate maximum for an average person.
"Before we did the study, I didn't imagine the heart-rate averages would be so high," Jordan Holthusen, an exercise researcher at the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse, said in the research report. "I was really impressed by how intense of a workout you can get hooping and how many calories you can burn."
Researchers also suggested, given the variety of movements in hooping, the exercise be considered a total-body workout with the potential to improve flexibility and balance while strengthening and toning the muscles of the back, abdomen, arms and legs.
Latshaw, who has always led a pretty active life, hopes Phat Hoops will help people get moving and make fitness a little more fun.
"Instead of sitting on the couch watching their sitcom, they can stand up, move the coffee table and hoop while watching," Latshaw said. "It's fun exercise."