Simin Khosravian traveled from her home in Columbia to her home country of Iran to care for her sick mother about five years ago. To her surprise, she found herself picking up not only a new hobby, but also a new career.
Khosravian was given a Hula-Hoop by her cousin while she was abroad, something she had never really experimented with, even as a child. But soon she was hooked.
"I started to try different things with it and found that Hula-Hooping was helping me to stay in shape and I wanted to learn more," Khosravian said.
So she brought her hoop back the United States and took it to the gym with her for two hours every day. Khosravian started looking up new exercises using the hoop on YouTube and started to expand her hooping vocabulary.
"I just taught myself. I found it very therapeutic," she said.
She soon found herself teaching others her new skills and was asked to instruct a Hula-Hoop class through the Columbia Association.
The once-per-week, 45-minute classes are held in six-week sessions and cost $35 for Columbia Association members and $55 for non-members at the Columbia Gym and the Columbia Athletic Club. She also teaches hourlong sessions at the Aspiring Motivations studios in Columbia, where participants pay $10 per class.
And it's quite the workout. Khosravian says that those who take the class burn around 400 calories in a full body workout that involves swinging hoops around your core, arms, legs and neck.
"I used to Hula-Hoop as a kid and I thought that it would be something fun and different to do," said Karen Aviles of Ellicott City, who attends Khosravian's class at the Columbia Athletic Club. "It's kind of like Hula-Hooping and Zumba put together. It's an entertaining way to work out, and you're so busy trying to concentrate that you're not looking at the clock like in some other gym classes. "
Ginny Price of Columbia has added the hoop to her daily life after taking classes with Khosravian.
"I now have a hoop at home and I watch basketball games and hoop instead of sitting down," Price said. "[Khosravian is] really talented with the hoop, and you get a great core workout while you're having fun."
Khosravian's mother has passed away since the first time she used a hoop while visiting her in Iran. Now, hooping is a way to reconnect with her.
"I think of her when I Hula-Hoop because when I was there and learning how to hoop, I was praying for her every morning at the same time. It was so emotionally good for me," she said. "That's why I do it now. I do it for my mom."