Yet another item to be added to this year's list of Things I Thought I'd Never Do: I've joined a gym.
And not only have I joined a gym, I've been going to the gym several times a week. This morning I was at the gym! Working out! At 8am!
Of course, I have an ulterior motive in joining the gym. I go there to hoop. You knew I was going to say that, didn't you?
I live in New Zealand, where the only thing you can predict about the weather is that it will be unpredictable. It's often rainy, often windy. I love to hoop outside, but in winter and spring - when the weather is at its wettest, windiest and coldest - it's difficult to hoop outside. And there's not enough room in our house to hoop.Oh, how I'd love to have my own hooping studio! But failing that, I decided to join the gym.
The gym has a room off to the side with a nice clear floor space and a full-length mirror - absolutely perfect for hooping. There are weights in this room which people sometimes come in to use; but there are never more than a few people at one time there. At the start I got some odd looks from gym patrons when I turned up with my hoops but now they're used to me.
And I'm used to the gym. In fact, I love it. I still hoop at home when I can, but going to the gym is like a regular date with my hoop. I go to the gym after dinner, when it's very quiet, to do my practice. It makes such a difference having a mirror to practise in front of because I can see how my moves actually look, rather than just assuming they're okay by feel. So often I think my hoop is moving in a smooth vertical plane - I get in front of the mirror and realise it's wobbling all over the place! I also do some yoga and some work with resistance bands at the gym, both of which help to strengthen my muscles and joints.
Going to the gym has sharpened my focus. I set myself a new goal each week relating to my hoop practice, and spend my practice sessions working towards that goal. Hooping really does reward hard work. I can begin a week completely unable to execute a move and by the end of the week it's been smoothly added to my repertoire. It's a great feeling.
I'm still not sure what I want to do with my hooping. Will it only ever be a fun hobby? Could I one day be a professional teacher, performer, hoop-maker, or a combination of all three? I can't answer those questions yet ... all I know is that I feel driven to be the best hoopdancer I can be.