Debbie Denbrook/Staff Photo

HEC class blends Polynesian culture with fitness

Hot hula stresses family, low-impact benefits

September 19, 2017

When most people first hear of hot hula fitness, the assumption is the fitness class consists of hula hooping in a hot room.

Hot hula is a Polynesian-inspired, dance-based fitness activity that is somewhat similar to Zumba, but with a more structured and repetitive choreography that students build upon with each successive lesson.

Marisa Gibbs, an instructor of hot hula fitness, said she felt invited into the Polynesian culture by past coworkers. She said she was inspired to teach after attending a Polynesian cultural festival in Tacoma, where she first learned about the program.

Gibbs speaks highly of the benefits of hot hula fitness, stressing that there are many emotional rewards, such as boosted levels of confidence, that accompany the physical benefits. The fitness class itself is based around the idea of “‘aiga,” the Samoan word for “family.” The class is held in a large group setting that focuses on supporting the accomplishments of other members rather than competition, she said.

The exercise itself is very low-impact and for any fitness level, according to Pierce College’s program support supervisor Lucinda Werley, who took the class last spring with her daughter.

“The activity is perfect for those looking for a place to begin in personal fitness, and it so gentle that it can even be enjoyed by women in their first and second trimester of pregnancy,” Gibbs, said

Hot hula fitness is currently only hosted at the Fort Steilacoom campus in the HEC multipurpose room, meets 6:30-7:30 p.m. every Monday and Wednesday through Oct. 25. Program developer Tracy Clark said it won't be back until the spring quarter.

“It will only hurt you if you don't try,” Gibbs said about prospective members. “(There’s) nothing to lose from trying; don’t be afraid to cut loose.”

hula dancers

Debbie Denbrook/Staff Photo
Marisa Gibbs is the instructor of this class. Keilani Santos (black and gold skirt), Lori Stewart (in purple), Megan Kelly (orange skirt), Lani Hendrick (green skirt), Penelope Lacy (blue and black skirt), and Mictoria Coolidge (blue skirt) have fun learning the dance the hula.


hula dancers

Debbie Denbrook/Staff Photo
Marisa Gibbs is the instructor of this class. Keilani Santos (black and gold skirt), Lori Stewart (in purple), Megan Kelly (orange skirt), Lani Hendrick (green skirt), Penelope Lacy (blue and black skirt), and Mictoria Coolidge (blue skirt) have fun learning the dance the hula.


hula dancers

Debbie Denbrook/Staff Photo
Marisa Gibbs is the instructor of this class. Keilani Santos (black and gold skirt), Lori Stewart (in purple), Megan Kelly (orange skirt), Lani Hendrick (green skirt), Penelope Lacy (blue and black skirt), and Mictoria Coolidge (blue skirt) have fun learning the dance the hula.


hula dancers

Debbie Denbrook/Staff Photo
Marisa Gibbs is the instructor of this class. Keilani Santos (black and gold skirt), Lori Stewart (in purple), Megan Kelly (orange skirt), Lani Hendrick (green skirt), Penelope Lacy (blue and black skirt), and Mictoria Coolidge (blue skirt) have fun learning the dance the hula.


hula dancers

Debbie Denbrook/Staff Photo
Marisa Gibbs is the instructor of this class. Keilani Santos (black and gold skirt), Lori Stewart (in purple), Megan Kelly (orange skirt), Lani Hendrick (green skirt), Penelope Lacy (blue and black skirt), and Mictoria Coolidge (blue skirt) have fun learning the dance the hula.


hula dancers

Debbie Denbrook/Staff Photo
Marisa Gibbs is the instructor of this class. Keilani Santos (black and gold skirt), Lori Stewart (in purple), Megan Kelly (orange skirt), Lani Hendrick (green skirt), Penelope Lacy (blue and black skirt), and Mictoria Coolidge (blue skirt) have fun learning the dance the hula.

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