Hula hooping – it’s for kids, right? Guess again.
Just because you’re a grown up, doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t play! Grown ups need play in their lives too. One great way I’ve discovered to get a little play time is to get out a hula hoop and go for a spin.
A few years ago, a friend of mine fell in love with hula hooping. It looked like so much fun, and I thought, why can’t I do it too? Her hula hooping was inspirational to me, and I asked her about her journey.
Hula Hooping was Love at First Spin
My friend Alyssa first heard about hula hooping through a Facebook group. She was new in town, and wanted to try something new, meet people, and get a little exercise, so she gave it a shot. Before the class, she wasn’t sure she would be able to keep the hoop up and spinning – turns out she couldn’t put it down!
She went to class for friends and exercise, but she commented, “I found so much more inside my hoop. I found a passion that helped me so much more than getting into shape. It helped me enjoy my life. I felt accomplished with every new trick I mastered. I loved going to classes, but also watching tutorials online to teach myself new tricks.”
If she couldn’t get a trick, she would get help from her “hoop mama” (teacher) in class. In only a few short months she had mastered several hoop tricks. She even got the opportunity to try a fire hoop – “It was the most thrilling thing I had done in years!” she excitedly recalled.
All the time she was hooping, she never felt like she was working out, yet after about 6 months, she was in the best shape of her life. She had lost the dreaded “baby pooch” she hadn’t been able to lose after her second child was born. She was now physically AND mentally fit!
“Hooping is my passion, my love, my exercise, and my meditation,” Alyssa told me. “Hooping is something I love to share with everyone, my friends, new and old, family and brings me to new friends.” When she sees someone else hoop, she can’t help but say hello and join in the fun!
My Turn to Try Hula Hooping
I searched online for a class near me, and bought a hoop from a friend-of-a-friend who made them. I was too excited to wait for the class, so I practiced at home and taught myself a few things – mainly just figured out how to keep the hoop spinning!
Then I started my class and met the fabulous Terri Burch. Terri found so much joy in hooping, she can’t help but share it with others.
Terri first saw hooping at a music festival in 2007. She saw all the hoopers dancing, and thought, “Wow. I want to be that beautiful.” She bought the last hoop for sale that day, and then her life changed. She found more happiness and better health, and much less stress.
When she came back home to Cincinnati after the festival, she found another hooper whom she joined in making hoops and teaching classes. After that hooper stepped back due to some big changes in her life, Terri bought the business, and Hoop Roots, Inc. was born.
“When I bought this business back in 2011, I had an image in my head of being on the crest of a giant wave that was about to hit our city – and that’s what happened,” Terri said, adding, “My business has never been about me getting rich, it’s about me sharing this joy with folks, and being able to afford my joy… being able to stay fit and support my hooping habit!”
Hoop dancing is my favorite kind of exercise because I don’t even know I am working out.
Since she began teaching classes for hoopers of all ages, she shed about 25 pounds. She gained muscle tone and strength in her arms, legs, and core, giving her a new sense of power and confidence. Hula hooping has been instrumental in her physical fitness. She was never really one for working out or going to the gym, and she didn’t have dance experience before she stared hooping. “Hoop dancing is my favorite kind of exercise because I don’t even know I am working out. Rather, I am listening to my favorite music and moving in stunning, shining, swirling colorful hoops with friends and loving my life.”
Besides taking and teaching classes around Cincinnati, Terri would travel to take classes and workshops from other instructors. Some she found by word of mouth, others found online. She would meet one teacher, who would introduce her to another, and so on… She occasionally will learn from a video online, but prefers to learn, play, and interact with other hoopers in person.
Teaching the classes also keeps her learning, because she wants to stay ahead of her students, and have more tricks to share with them as well.
The most frustrating part for Terri is hitting a plateau – trying to figure out how to reach a new level, rather it’s finding new tricks or a new performance opportunity. For Alyssa, she is frustrated by learning new tricks, but has an amazing time working on them. “When I set my mind to learn a new trick, I don’t give up until I figure it out. When I was trying to learn how to get my hoop from my hips to chest with no hands, I spent 3 hours in my basement practicing until I got it… I have a hard time walking away from my hoop when I am so determined to learn a new trick. I will almost go into a trance until I have it mastered.”
Through Terri’s hula hooping classes around town at rec centers, gyms, and parks, a community started to form. Some of her students started the Cincinnati Flow Arts and Drum Circle Tribe who meet regularly at a park to hoop and play. The Tribe grew from 12 women gathered with their kids to nearly 300 people showing up on a weeknight to play, hoop, and share the joy! Over the years, the Tribe has experienced so much growth that it split in two! Anyone can go to either event, but the two parts of the tribe have slightly different focuses – one more about hoop and play, and the other more yogic and community centered.
Hoopers all develop their own style of dance and flow, but their hoops connect them in their joy, and they support each other, and lift each other up. Alyssa commented, “I love hooping for so many reasons, but first and foremost is probably the ability that hooping has to lift people out of a dark place. I thought my own journey from borderline depression to happiness was rare, only to discover so many others online who had similar experiences. I just love how hooping brings so much joy into people’s lives.”
Terri has found another way to share her joy and her style – performance! Her very first performance was in a teachers’ showcase at Kula Center for Movement where she was teaching hula hooping classes. This got her new visibility, for more teaching and performance gigs! Watch a video of her performance here.
“Seeing them go from ‘I can’t hoop’ to that squeal when they get it is one of my favorite moments.”
Outside of choreographed routines and performances, she also shares joy through hooping at community events and festivals. She always brings extra hoops so more people, kids and “taller kids” (adults) can join in and try. “Seeing them go from ‘I can’t hoop’ to that squeal when they get it is one of my favorite moments.” Sharing the joy is fun, but Terri also really loves her own personal hoop time. “I love to listen to a song and flow with the hoop and me and the music. It’s a love-making process.”
So, are you ready to find some joy and add playtime to your life?
Alyssa encourages, “If you are hesitant to try it, just do it! Make sure you have the correct hoop, and give it a whirl. If you can attend a class, start there. Generally you don’t need a hoop prior to attending a class. If there are no classes near you, or you don’t want to try it in a class, you can always start in the privacy of your back yard. There are plenty of great tutorials on the internet of how to make a hoop, and how to get started. Best of all, almost all of them are free! What do you have to lose, besides fat and bad moods?”
I agree with Alyssa. Go play!