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When I gave birth to my little boy 18 months ago, I gained something else as well - a wobbly belly, or, as it’s affectionately known, a ‘mum tum’. Long walks with a buggy, breastfeeding and running after a toddler have actually helped me lose more than the three stone I put on during pregnancy. The problem is, like most people with children or busy lives, I can’t spend hours in the gym or afford to hire a personal trainer. ‘Five mins in the morning, five mins at night ... in five days I lost two inches from my waistline!’ Michelle Obama, who can apparently hula while kneeling, Grace Jones, who hooped throughout her Queen’s Diamond Jubilee performance last year, and Beyoncé have all credited the humble hoop for their fantastic figures.

So I arrange to meet hula hooping expert Anna Drury, 30, at a gym in South London. The last time I picked up a hula hoop, I had ankle socks and pigtails, so I’m understandably nervous as I join the 12 other women in the evening’s class.

The secret is lots of practice and the right equipment - the larger and heavier the hoop, the easier it is to control and the more it’ll help you tone up. As the class starts, Anna explains that hooping is like riding a bike - it’s all about finding your own personal rhythm and once you’ve got it, it never goes.

Getting the hula hoop ‘in flight’ (to use the technical term) is actually easier than I’d thought - I just hold it around my waist and fling it sideways - but keeping it twirling for more than a few rotations is going to take some practice.

That’s easy for her to say, casually spinning her hoop around her neck, but I get countless knocks as mine keeps clattering to the ground. Anna cheerfully explains that bruises are par for the course when learning, and that my stomach will toughen up, so I should look at them as war wounds. Slowly, I start to get the hang of it, although I find it much easier to hoop in an anti-clockwise direction than a clockwise one (apparently this is normal for right-handed people).

As for my mission to lose my mum tum, Anna recommends following Kelly Osborne’s example and hooping for ten minutes a day. To burn even more calories I should vary the pace - exaggerating my movements to make the hoop go faster, then slowing things down which is actually harder).

Celeb fans: Beyonce, left, and Kelly Osbourne use hula hoops to keep in shape

Still, after a week of dogged determination, I’ve worked out that looking straight ahead rather than down at the hoop helps, meaning I can do 40 rotations before it drops.

Three weeks in and I’m improving in leaps and bounds - I can manage 100 rotations at a time (about two minutes) and have an impressive golf-ball sized bruise (sorry, ‘war wound’) on my hip to show for it. I’m starting to walk around the room while hooping, can turn in a full circle and manage over 1,000 rotations in both directions.

Queen of the swingers: Grace Jones hula hooped during her performance at the Diamond Jubilee concert I’m eager to up my game - to be honest, hooping on the spot can get repetitive - so Anna suggests reading a book or chatting to a friend while I exercise.

I can hula and jog on the spot, enjoy a bit of television and move around my living room without smashing things. Plus, I’ve lost 5lb and when I went shopping the other day, I managed to fit into a size 12 dress for the first time in 15 years!

Hula happy: Jenny Wood learmt how to use the hoop to get in shape
Hula happy: Jenny Wood learmt how to use the hoop to get in shape
Noticeable difference: Jenny before, the challenge, left, and, right, 5lb lighter with a flatter stomach
Noticeable difference: Jenny before, the challenge, left, and, right, 5lb lighter with a flatter stomach
After: Jenny has lost 5LB
After: Jenny has lost 5LB
Toned up: Jenny shifted her 'mummy tummy' by regularly hula hooping
Toned up: Jenny shifted her 'mummy tummy' by regularly hula hooping
Multi-tasking: Once you get the hang of it, you should be able to hula while texting or reading
Multi-tasking: Once you get the hang of it, you should be able to hula while texting or reading
Celeb fans: Beyonce, left, and Kelly Osbourne use hula hoops to keep in shape
Celeb fans: Beyonce, left, and Kelly Osbourne use hula hoops to keep in shape
Celeb fans: Beyonce, left, and Kelly Osbourne use hula hoops to keep in shape
Celeb fans: Beyonce, left, and Kelly Osbourne use hula hoops to keep in shape
Queen of the swingers: Grace Jones hula hooped during the Diamond Jubilee concert
Queen of the swingers: Grace Jones hula hooped during the Diamond Jubilee concert

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