How Does It Work
Poi spinning is a great low-impact form of exercise which will hone and tone not only your body but your mind too. Often classified as a circus skill, poi doesn’t require lots of expensive equipment and can be adapted to suit your own levels of fitness and coordination, so you move at your own pace.
The poi themselves usually take the form of two balls, each attached to a thin length of rope with a soft loop on the end. One poi is held in each hand, with the loop placed over the index finger, and the poi are then spun, using the wrist to circulate them fast enough that the balls stay outwards, creating ‘patterns’ in the air.
Tricks start with basic spins and progress with your skill level, becoming increasingly complex and impressive-looking. With memorable names like ‘butterfly’, ‘pirouette’ and ‘buzzsaw’, you’ll have no problem remembering your moves. After some practice and dedication you may eventually find yourself spinning poi above your head, behind your back or even progressing to using fire poi, where the ball is replaced with a material ‘torch’, soaked in paraffin and set alight to create amazing fire-patterns. Now that’s a party trick…
The core benefits of poi spinning are increased upper body strength, spatial awareness and concentration, but it is also believed to have a positive effect on:
- Flexibility and muscle mass
- Circulation, especially in your arms, wrists and shoulders
- Timing and coordination
- Self esteem
Originally from New Zealand, poi spinning is believed to have roots 2000 years ago as a Maori martial art used to prepare the mind and body for hunting. Luckily no animals are involved in modern day poi classes so you won’t need that spear, just loose, comfortable clothing and sensible footwear.
Is It For Me?
Poi spinning is suitable for anyone who wants to gain ninja-like skills to impress their friends and get fit at the same time. It’s low-impact and is done in an upright position so it may be unsuitable for those with leg injuries which would be worsened by long periods of standing.
Good To Know
Spinning poi should not be confused with poi the food, a traditional Polynesian dish made involving a fermented, slightly sour-tasting root vegetable named taro. That would just be a waste of good food.