When Sonya Renick stayed after her weekly Zumba class Tuesday night with a pile of hula hoops and a stereo, she had no idea what to expect.

The Independence fitness instructor, who teaches at the Roger T. Sermon Center, estimated anywhere from two to 10 students at her first hula hooping class, dubbed “Core Hoopla” and set for a four-week session. However, an unclear outlook and a willingness to experiment proved to be themes of the course.

“It’s like being a little kid,” Renick said.

Indeed, some of the nearly 10 attendees said they hadn’t picked up a hula hoop in 10 or 20 years – or since 1970, one woman specified. Renick herself returned to the hoop after back problems made floor exercises uncomfortable. She was surprised to learn it had major benefits, from helping with back fat to trimming her waistline.

But beyond that, Renick emphasized, it simply gets people moving.

“I’m not a bootcamp type of person. These are normal people wearing sweatpants and T-shirts,” she said, looking out as the group lip-synced to Justin Timberlake. “I enjoy watching people have fun and progress. It’s a personal, ‘I did that.’

“I helped these people just move. It doesn’t have to be fancy. You don’t have to be fit.”

Some people laugh as their hoops clatter to the floor. Others just twirl them around their arms, or even use the hoops as makeshift jump ropes.

From promising to make a weighted hoop for one woman to encouraging two others to start by stretching, Renick is willing to make adjustments, and to help build confidence and strength over time.

It reminds her of her own fitness journey. After years of practicing as a student, an instructor approached Renick and asked her to teach. Once again, she didn’t know what to expect – but insists the teacher role now feels second nature. She credits this progression to the Sermon Center’s accessibility, noting that classes are inexpensive and that students can drop in. They don’t have to be members or even Independence residents.

For Misty Dunning, this adaptability stands out as one of the perks.

“I just like to try new workouts,” Dunning explained. “I’ve never been able to hula hoop. And today, I can hula hoop like a professional.”

She giggles.

“Just kidding. But at least my nieces will be proud.”

IF YOU GO

Core Hoopla class will be offered from 7:15 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. on Dec. 4, 11 and 18 at the Roger T. Sermon Center, 201 N. Dodgion St. To register or for more information, call 816-325-7370.