New parents have been known to go to great lengths to wangle a much-needed nap for their babies (and themselves): long car rides, pushing the stroller mile after mile...and now, hula classes. Especially if Marcie Mahinakealo Cheung, a longtime dancer and cofounder of the new dance program A Honu World of Hula (ahonuworldofhula.com) has anything to say about it. Along with business partner and 40-year hula veteran JoanMarie Ke‘alaileiha‘aha‘a Hughes, Cheung started offering soothing mom-and-baby hula classes last September at Mukilteo Athletic Club. During the classes, mamas sway in time to traditional Hawaiian tunes while toting little ones in carriers.
“About half the kids are asleep by the end of class,” she says. “I like to think of it as hula therapy; it’s a very laid-back, calming environment.”
Mothers are encouraged to bond with their babies throughout the 45-minute workout—which is inspired by a similar style of class that is taught in Hawaii—trying out hand motions and perhaps working up a light sweat. “You are carrying around an extra 10–20 pounds, after all,” says Cheung, who teaches classes with 1-year-old son, Owen, in tow.
A Honu World of Hula also offers an “Island Jams for Toddlers” class for children ages 1–3, where tykes can learn a few moves while listening to Hawaiian songs and stories, as well as beginner hula lessons for kids ages 3 and older. Hula babies drop-in session, $12; full six-week session, $60. Classes meet at Mukilteo Athletic Club (Mukilteo, 12138 Mukilteo Speedway; 425.748.4497) and Romp (Bellevue, 13500 Bel-Red Road, Suite 7A; 425.348.0960); register online at ahonuworldofhula.com.