When Amy McAuley was in the midst of depression, bulimia and alcohol addiction, she never dreamed that powerhooping would one day change her life forever.

“Finding a type of exercise I liked and enjoyed truly saved my life. The first time I tried it I had so much fun I had a full smile from ear to ear,” the mother-of-three says.

Amy (42) first tried powerhooping, a kind of hula-hooping with a thicker, cushioned and weighted hoop, in her home country of Scotland in 2012. She was instantly hooked and soon became a powerhoop instructor.

She moved to Auckland with her Kiwi husband, and four years ago started her own business Powerhoop NZ.

Amy held a powerhoop workshop this month in Point Chevalier in Auckland with half of the proceeds going to the Mental Health Foundation.

“Powerhooping helps me feel so good physically and mentally. I used to get bad back pain and that went away and my mental health has improved so much. Now I really want to help other people feel good too. It’s something I’m really passionate about.”

Holistic approach to health

“For me it’s all about holistic health, feeling good mentally and physically. Exercise is a key part of that.”

Amy developed bulimia in her teens but has been free of it for the last seven years. She says the bulimia started because she had low self-esteem and a negative body image. She also experienced post-natal depression with all three of her children.

She says counselling and medication, as well as exercise and a healthy diet, has helped her deal with her mental health issues.

“Counselling helped beyond belief. In fact, it was my counsellor who suggested I try exercising.”

Amy says powerhooping seems to attract people who don’t usually enjoy exercise.

“Powerhooping also helps with confidence, you meet new people and it’s so much fun.”

Amy says she wants to give hope and inspiration to others.

“When I discovered powerhooping I started to see the mental benefits. Everything got better for me and I got my life back. It was the catalyst for change in my life and became a good habit that helped me break some of my other bad habits.”

Domino effect

She says she never dreamed she’d one day be running a successful powerhooping business.

“I went from somebody who had no self-esteem, was throwing up 20 times a day and drinking too much, to living this healthy lifestyle and feeling great. It’s like a domino effect, you make one positive change then a whole lot of others changes happen.”

Amy’s also writing a book about her experiences and is in the middle of shooting a powerhoop nude calendar (with strategically placed hoops), all to raise money for the Mental Health Foundation.

“Sometimes it seems hard but a single small step can make a massive difference. I wasted so many years feeling crap... but I’ve definitely seen the light.”