The Hula-Hooping fad of the '50s has returned as a fitness phenomenon called hoop dancing. The latest permutation involves weighted hoops and movement to music. It's a little more like dancing than playground play, but one thing isn't new: It's still fun.
To get started, you'll need a hoop that fits. Kids' hoops are easy to come by, but don't try to use one yourself. Adult hoops are 38 to 42 inches in diameter and heavier than hoops you might remember using as a child. Stood on edge, the hoop should at least reach your belly button. Find a good, weighted hoop for your kids, as well. The extra heft makes it easier to keep up and adds to the exercise.
Place the hoop against the small of your back and stand with one leg slightly in front of the other. "Wind up" the hoop by turning your torso — and the hoop — in one direction and then swinging the hoop in the opposite direction around your body.
You'll probably find that you're either a "lefty" or "righty" hooper, so moving the hoop in one direction may feel more natural. Try both directions to see which is easier. Once you give the hoop a swing, shift your weight front to back. This uses the body's core muscles — abs, back and pelvis — and you don't need to be a belly dancer or salsa maven to get it done.
Try it with your kids, and everyone will be laughing before you know it, adding to your core work. It's a great opportunity to experience together the ups and downs (and arounds and arounds) of learning a new physical skill.