LIFE: Hula Around

The workout starts with an “aloha.” Don’t bother with athletic shoes or headbands either. You’d fit in better with a flowered skirt and lei.

For fitness instructor Julie Field, teaching aerobics for almost 20 years has given her an idea of what people want: fun. Not content with the regular ho-hum exercise class, Field created at class at Woodbridge Sport & Health she thought would appeal to folks’ fun sides. And it has.

Drawing on her hula-dancing background, Field teaches hula fitness classes at the club. The results speak for themselves.

“I took hula as a kid growing up in Hawaii, and I heard a lot about this class and I had to come. I was really bored with other classes,” said Woodbridge resident Evelyn Dahm after a Wednesday class.

“It’s really relaxing and spiritual, and in this class there’s lots of energy. You never find yourself looking at the clock like you do in most classes. The time flies because you’re having such a good time.”

Just because the class erupts with fun doesn’t mean the workout lacks. A typical session has about 10 to 12 students. Field begins with a light stretch and pops in popular hula music ? think “Tiny Bubbles” by Don Ho. She moves on to the “ami,” a simple dance with hip revolutions, and then to a “vamp,” or graceful movement to the side.

The movements all add up to a begging dance called a “hookie lau,” gracefully depicting the movements of fishermen casting their nets. “Pearly Shells,” represents the next dance, where Field utilizes hand and arm movements.

“You have to keep going. The idea is you just keep on moving, not what you remember about the dances,” Field said through a headset during the class. “And make sure you keep smiling.”

The 45-minute class, open to the club’s members, concludes with the students forming two lines and hula dancing up the floor, moving their hips vigorously. There’s also a final stretch and cool down.

A certified aerobics instructor from the Philippines, Field said the workout targets arms, abdominals, the back and legs. Since the students keep their arms up about shoulder-length throughout most of the class, it really works the shoulders, Field said.

“It’s a core workout and helps with everything; and it’s fun. People are sick and tired of the same usual routines. They see this as another way to work out. People have requested me to teach more classes,” she said.

“I come up with all the movements for the class. Belly dancing is becoming popular again, and you have to keep up with the latest trends.”

Field learned hula around age 6 and promotes Hawaii for United Airlines. At age 13, she started teaching the dances. For the class, she brings an array of traditional items from drums to sarongs (flowered wraps) and leis.

Yiota Bulmer, from Woodbridge, has been a member of the club for a “long time,” as she puts it, and she hankered for something new. After years of step aerobics, which took a toll on her knees and hips, she heard about the class and jumped at the opportunity.

“You get a workout and have a great time. It’s like yoga, the way
everything just flows. I worked out other ways for 13 years and this is the best. Your whole body works with this and meanwhile, you’re expressing something and it’s great,” she said.

Judy Jones, who danced hula professionally, also takes the class. During Wednesday’s session, Field brought her up to the front to help demonstrate technique.

“It’s fun to have joined the class and be a part of it. My uncle was a pilot in Hawaii, and his wife learned the hula and taught me,” she said.

“It’s a great workout. I just worked out for an hour, and I wanted to come to the class. I recommend it for everyone.”

? Hula fitness
? Woodbridge Sport and Health, 13000 Sport & Health Drive
? (703) 491-4126.
Staff writer Christian Czerwinski can be reached at (703) 878-8074.