Getting fit and having fun with hula
Porirua is getting fit island-style, thanks to two women who run non-profit hula classes in the east.
Kelly Ruru and Ebony Ngatoko launched Hula Active a year ago.
It has proved so popular the pair run four classes a week in Porirua and have expanded into the Hutt Valley.
The women don’t make a cent from the classes, however. All gold coin entry fees are donated back to the school and church halls where the classes are held.
‘‘What we get out of it is just seeing the community enjoying themselves,’’ Ms Ruru said.
‘‘ This is our heart here. We grew up here and we went to school here.’’
Between 30 and 80 people, mostly women, attend each Hula Active class, from small children to women in their 70s.
Seeing fitness levels improve over the weeks was a joy, Ms Ruru said.
‘‘That’s our mission and that’s been our mission from day one.
‘‘We’re seeing progress and that keeps us going. We’re thriving on our classes.’’
While hula seems to be all about the hips, in fact it strengthened your core muscles and legs, she said.
Hula dancing styles from Tahiti, Hawaii and the Cook Islands are taught, as well as Samoan, Maori and hip- hop moves. The music ranges from Island drumbeats to modern R’n’B.
Visions of grass skirts and coconut bras scared some people off hula, but Hula Active was designed to make people feel comfortable, Ms Ruru said.
A lot of Pacific Island women grew up dancing, but never saw it as a way to get fit, Ms Ngatoko said.
‘‘Dance is very much part of their culture. They’re seeing it and doing it, but not as fitness,’’ she said.
The best part about the classes was forming friendships with the women who attended, and hearing their stories, Ms Ngatoko said. ‘‘It’s just a privilege.’’ Ms Ruru and Ms Ngatoko would like to roll out Hula Active nationwide and even overseas, and are looking for instructors who can extend the programme.
Island moves: Kelly Ruru and Ebony Ngatoko, centre, run popular hula fitness classes in Porirua East.