Original article from Kent Live
We've all had to find our own methods to help us get through lockdown.
For some it's been baking, others have walked and walked some more, and many have just taken each day as it comes.
For Chloe Statham, a educational publishing editor from Tonbridge, it's been something else.
To help her mental health and prevent "freak outs" from her anxiety, she has relied on hula hopping.
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She has found picking up a hula hoop for just five minutes makes her feel better when she's having a bad day.
Chloe says she is the first hula hooping fitness instructor in Kent, and is looking at bringing the fitness practice to the county through online classes.
During lockdown, Chloe made the big move from London back to her home town of Tonbridge, after she and her partner were struggling to work from home in a tiny London flat.
Due to the lack of space, Chloe would go up on the roof of her building to practice her hula hooping, no matter if the weather was freezing cold or bright and sunny.
Speaking to KentLive, Chloe said: "I’ve been able to look back on this year and go in so many ways it’s been absolutely awful, but I can see I’ve achieved something I’ve really progressed in through this year.
"Where I really noticed it’s helped with my mental health is during this pandemic, I have anxiety as it is, so I’m the type of person who would have been very prone to a lot of freak outs in this sort of situation.
"I find hula hooping quite meditative, it’s going round and round your body and it kind of gets you out of your head a bit, you have to focus on it to keep it going.
"So sometimes I’m just having a bit of a rubbish day, I’ll pick up my hula hoop, even for five minutes, and in all that time it makes me feel better.
"And then with the classes it’s that sense of routine that stops that feeling of the days melding into one. It breaks your weeks up, it gives you something to commit to."
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'A way of celebrating your body'
Chloe continued: "So in lockdown that was when I realised just how important it had become to me, physically and mentally, it was the thing that I was missing so much.
"It gave me consistency, but it’s a really great workout because it’s great for your core, but it’s also great cardio. You can do so much with a hula hoop, that’s been the fun thing to discover. My favourite thing is hoop squats.
"The fitter it made me the more it made me like fitness. It's actually got me back into things that I’d previously given up on. I’ve been cycling more, I’ve been playing golf more, just because it's redefined my relationship with fitness.
"I’m seeing it more as something fun and exciting, and a way of celebrating your body rather than something that’s sort of a punishment for eating too much or something you have to do because you want to be this clothes size."
'I got absolutely addicted'
When Chloe discovered hula hooping could be exercise, she said it "completely blew my mind", she took "lots of little stepping stone" to get so invested in the fitness routine.
"You think of a hula hoop as a kids toy. I really loved it when I was little. I hated PE, I was a bit scared of PE, it’s quite a scary thing to do when you’re a shy kid, but I was always surprisingly good at hula hooping," she said.
Chloe started online classes via zoom and has been lending out the hoops to the local residents of Tonbridge, getting people of all ages involved.
"I get people from all over joining which is lovely, but I’ve really been promoting them locally so I’ve got a lot of Kent locals joining my classes.
"You get that sense of there’s a world still outside my four walls. Soon I’ll be able to take the classes outside and these people, they’re locals, I’ll be able to see them in person.
"It’s given me this whole new network that’s been instrumental in keeping me sane through all of this."