Sunday, 29 July 2012

The journey so far.

I was hooked from the moment my big blue-and-silver beginner's hula hoop first rolled across my hips.

It was the morning of 1st March, 2012. I was on leave from work, and John and I had become engaged the previous day. I was doing my morning yoga practice when there was a knock on the door. It was the courier, delivering my hoop from Hoopnotica. I was giddy with excitement. I ripped open the packaging, assembled the hoop - wow, I can't believe how big and heavy it is, I thought - put the instructional DVD into my laptop, and began to hoop, my yoga forgotten.

I'd been reading about hooping on the bloggersphere for a while, and it seemed slightly silly to me. I mean, isn't hooping what kids do? Why are these grown women with children of their own doing it? But they seemed so passionate about it. It seemed like such good exercise. I loved to exercise but could never stick to a regular exercise routine. It was always too much effort to get myself down to the pool or to yoga class. Maybe a hoop would be the answer? While I was still trying to decide, I came across this video of hoopdancer Spiral hooping at a festival:

I must try that, I thought. So I ordered a hoop, half-expecting that after the initial novelty it would soon begin to gather dust in a corner of the bedroom.

How wrong I was ...

People are always saying to me, "Oh, I couldn't hoop. I've never been able to." Well, guess what? I spent the first 40 years of my life unable to hoop as well. I couldn't do it as a kid or as a teenager. It turns all I needed was a proper, adult-sized hoop, the right instruction and a little bit of practice. And I was hooked.

When John came home for lunch that day, I proudly showed him my hooping skills and he was [and always has been] very encouraging of what I'd achieved. By the time I was ready to go back to work, I had drained my DVD of its hoopy goodness and knew all those moves. I became a YouTube addict, searching for hooping tutorials and hooping videos to inspire me and learn new moves. I've now signed up for SaFire's series of online classes, which I am still working through, and I practise every day.

That was five months ago. My hoops are smaller and lighter now, although I do still use my heavy hoops regularly. I have a big repertoire of hoop tricks - I'm not nearly as good as I'd like to be, although I'm far more skilled than I ever thought I would be when I first picked up that hoop back in March. I take hoops with me whenever I can and love teaching people how to get the hoop spinning, especially those who think they can't.

In September I'll be teaching for real! The programme director of our local Community Education Service [CES] has asked me to teach two classes during adult education week. If they're successful, I'll be offered a contract to teach a full night school course in hooping at CES next year. Exciting times!!

Friday, 20 July 2012

What is hooping?

At its most simple level, "hooping" is the act of spinning a hoop round your waist. You can go that far and no more, if you wish, nothing wrong with that.

But most hoopers find their hoop twirling about their hips, legs, chest, shoulders, neck, hands, head ... even their nose. They find themselves tossing the hip, reversing it, throwing it, shimmying it, swishing it, wrapping it, kicking it, spinning it, dancing with it, jumping through it. You name a move, someone, somewhere will have tried that move with a hoop.

There are several different kinds of hooping. The oldest is cultural hooping, the kind seen in some Native American groups. The ancient Egyptians swung hoops made of vine branches, so it's been around for a while.

Then there's circus hooping - the sort of hooping involving very bendy girls in sparkly leotards doing eye-popping routines with 20 hoops at one time. Circus hooping is probably beyond the realms of possibility for most of us but it's sure fun to watch. Hooping seen in rhythmic gymnastics is closely related to circus hooping. It's my least favourite kind of hooping, probably because I don't like the idea of using hoops to compete against others.

Then there's exercise hooping. Pretty simple, really: using a hoop to burn calories. Exercise hoop classes can be found in gyms, exercise clubs and on DVDs. Exercise hooping is done with a heavy, large hoop which spins mostly on the body. It's fun, but the emphasis is on working out.

The final type of hooping is hoopdancing, and this is exactly what it sounds like: a form of dance using a hoop. Although it requires a lot of hard work to do well, hoopdance is easier to pick up than something like ballet. It's creative, expressive, graceful, and the best fun you can have with your clothes on!