GENEVA – Stephanie Ascencio knows how to attract attention to her hula hoop fitness classes: sparkly hula hoops.
"We call them hooping bling," the certified Hoopnotica instructor said Saturday morning at the Stephen D. Persinger Recreation Center in Geneva.
Ascencio's 9 a.m. hoops class kicked off the Geneva Park District's free fitness demo day, which let the public sample such group fitness classes as turbokick, piloxing, Pilates, yoga, spin and Zumba.
Fitness coordinator Debby Meyer said this was the second free fitness demo day the park district has offered; the first was last fall. The park district plans on offering demo days two to three times a year, she said.
The 30-minute sample sessions let people get familiar with different styles of exercise without the pressure that some might feel on the first day of a class, Meyer said, greeting people as they passed by.
"That was super hard," a hoops participant said, exiting the gymnasium.
"That was great," another participant said, kids in tow.
Ascencio, who has been hooping for more than three years, said the core-strengthening activity is one that anyone can do within five minutes, albeit some may do it better than others.
"It's just a really great way to have a lot of fun and bring your inner diva out," she said. "If you feel sore, that's a good thing."
The Geneva Park District strives to include a varied selection of group fitness classes that reflects current trends, Meyer said.
Group classes, especially Zumba and spin, are "very popular," she said. In addition to breaking up the monotony of other workouts, she said, the classes let people exercise with friends and neighbors and under the guidance of a knowledgeable, certified instructor.
"Group classes are good for motivating people," Meyer said.
Donna Hanrahan of Geneva comes to the rec center almost every morning, usually using the elliptical machines and weights, she said. But, noticing the free group classes on Saturday, she decided to give turbokick – an exercise she hadn't even heard of – a try.
"It was really fun," she said, describing it as an intense workout.
Depending on her schedule, she said, she would consider signing up for the class.
Registration for Geneva Park District's spring programs begins Tuesday for residents and March 19 for non-residents. For more information, visit genevaparks.org.