For almost 40 years, Dr. Kanika Tomalin hated to hula hoop. "I'd put it on -- and it would fall straight down," says the deputy mayor of St. Petersburg.
But as she approached that milestone birthday, a friend -- who very much believed in the health benefits of hula hooping -- challenged her: "You can run a city, certainly you can hula hoop."
So she tried. And tried again. She moved with hoop, didn't wildly swing her hips. She was "disciplined in practicing all the time until I got it."
She got it. And then some. And now?" I can hula hoop indefinitely. Unless something comes between me and this hoop, I can keep it up for at least an hour....I certainly watch good TV while I hula hoop."
Best news of all? After hula hooping for 30 minutes a day for about six weeks: "I lost about 20 pounds. And my waist? I didn't measure it, but it shrank -- it was amazing."
Tomalin is a busy woman and she understands the demands a busy life makes on people. But hula hooping offers her peace of mind and body: "It's a great workout, because it works your core. You can do it with tight abdominals. You can do it in a squat. You can do it with some arm work."
The politician will get to trumpet the joys of hula hooping at 7:30 a.m. this Saturday at a free "Fit City" celebration at North Straub Park in downtown St. Petersburg. The "Healthy St. Pete" event will feature a 5K marathon, a 1-mile fun walk, fitness demonstrations, a kids play zone, food and wellness vendors...and, of course, hula hooping and will go until 2 p.m.