'Shake it like Shakira': Meet the Stowmarket woman turning her unusual addiction into a 'global' business
Shake it like Shakira and the bigger the better.
These are just two of the motivational phrases Abby Close uses to inspire members of her hula hoop classes.
Self-confessed hula hoop addict, Abby, 24, has been shaking it this way for more than 10 years. And says she has the abs to prove it.
"It's great for abs," said Abby, from Stowmarket .
"But also a great for a full body workout and tones legs, arms, calves, you name it, it tones it.
"I am a complete hula hoop addict. I have too many hoops to mention, all sizes, and make sure I do it every day."
Abby discovered hula hooping more than 10 years ago after challenging a friend to see which one of them could keep it up the longest, (they both lasted 3 hours).
"I also hula hooped my way through school and university and did all my revision while hula hooping," she said.
"I'd hold a book in front of me and then if the hula hooped slipped down, I knew I had lost my focus.
"I got two A*s and an A and a degree in business management, so I think it worked."
Abby has also persuaded others to take up the activity, too.
"My boss in my last job once asked what I got up to in my spare time and he was intrigued when I said hula hooping," recalls Abby.
"He tried it and got addicted too. He would hula hoop before work and would even hula hoop during meetings."
Abby launched her new business, Hula with Abs, earlier this month.
Hula hoops were patented in Ameria in 1958 by Wham-O founder, Arthur 'Spud' Melin.
But they date back to ancient Egypt when children would use grape vines, to Ancient Greece when golden hoops were used, and to the 14th Century in Britain when the hoops were made out of wood or metal.
They were also very popular in the 1960s.
Abby runs regular online classes and also face-to-face classes. The most recent at The Mix in Stowmarket.
"The live classes are great because the hula hoop is perfect for social distancing, with everyone two metres apart," she said.
"It doesn't matter what age or level of fitness you are. It's also the best activity for those who are sceptical about exercise, as it really has a fun element to it.
Apart the physical benefits of the hula hooping, Abby is also keen to promote its mental health benefits.
"You put on some feel good music such as Hula Hoop by OMI and then you're away.
"My uncle who is in his 70s has dementia and I taught him too hula hoop, too. He loves it and has even made up his own routines."
Abby says she has also made hula hoop friends worldwide and is building up a community on the internet with class members from Australia, Hungary, and Germany.
Every first online session is free, and then £5 per after that.
On Saturday (October 10), she will be holding online classes at 9.30am and 5pm with all money raised going to Suffolk Mind for World Mental Day.
"I have all kinds of hoops," said Abby.
"But I'd alway say the bigger the better, as the heavier ones, around 1.3kg have more momentum.
"In the classes we do on and off-hoop exercises for a full workout.
"One of the most popular exercises is 'the windscreen wiper' where you keep the hula hooping going and make the movement of windscreen wipers with your arms.
"It's also great fun."
For more information, visit: www.hulawithabs.co.uk