Some of you might have noticed a photo or two (or fifty!) of me with a hoop around my waist, my arms, or hoisted up in the air. It’s official. I’m obsessed with hoop dancing. Here’s why:
1. It’s some of the best exercise I’ve gotten. Ever.
I used to run. I’d do three or four miles a morning, combined with some weight lifting at a local gym.
With a couple of months of solid practice in hoop dance, I’ve built muscle in my arms (hooper’s shoulders!), toned up my legs a little, and lost weight – a bonus! (I don’t own a scale, but I can tell “the rind” at my waist that appeared around my 40th birthday is significantly diminished.)
2. I’m learning that I’m not such a klutz afterall.
With practice I store different tricks and moves into muscle memory. I’m still not the most graceful hoop dancer ever, but hey, I can move and not look like an idiot. This is a huge deal for me, having been laughed at by a professional dancer in a college-level jazz dance class. That left a bruise on my psyche. So ha ha to you, Mr. NYC FancyPants Dance Man! I CAN dance! Oh, and your class wasn’t as creative as hoop dance either, so there.
3. It’s good for the spirit.
With running, you get “runner’s high,” and with hoop dance you get “hooper’s bliss.”
You know that feeling you get (or got) riding your bike down a really sweet hill? That’s hooping. It makes you a kid again. It’s pure play. Hooping attracts good people. Put a hoop around your waist, and suddenly women, men, and kids alike are coming over and asking to give it a try. Why? Because it looks like fun, and it is.
4. I get to wear skirts!
I’m a girly girl from a theatrical, creative family. I’ve never liked pants much, so getting to wear skirts to “exercise” in is a major thrill. Hooping clothes run anywhere along the line of regular workout wear to tutus with torn fishnets. Some hoop dancers wear masks when they perform, or tiny little hats or crowns, or feathers … there’s a whole incredibly creative array of dress and makeup that makes me giddy just thinking about it. What do I wear when Irun? Oh, right. Sneakers, socks, a pair of shorts and a t-shirt. I’ll take a fun shirt paired with a skirt and pink leggings over that any day.
5. People who hoop make up a community of really positive and kind people.
I joined Hoop City, a sort of “Hooper’s Facebook,” about a month ago, and at the request of my sister (who gets total credit for my addiction to hoop dance), started taking SaFire’s classes. I began reading and posting in the forums on Hoop City, and joining in some of the groups. Everyone from newbies to professional performers posts there – and they are all supportive, encouraging, and inspiring.
The hoopers I know in real life are also this way. Everyone shares ideas and tricks they’ve learned with each other. A lot of hoopers attend festivals and concerts and take their hoops with them. I want to start doing more of that so I can meet more hoopers! I’m still trying to crack the secret code for getting people to join in a free hoop jam I’ve started at the park. My latest attempt at that is a hoop making workshop. I figure by empowering people with the craft of making a hoop, they will want to test it out.
6. It makes me happier.
All of the above combined conspire toward a happier me. When I’m happy, I make things happen for myself and others. I create. I make meals at home instead of eating out, I write more, I garden, I attempt to sew, I learn to use a rivet gun, I paint. I’m more likely to tackle a large, looming project that I've put off if I’ve spent part of my day in the hoop.
If it makes me happier and keeps me creating, inspired, and encouraging others, I think that's some of the best exercise I've gotten. Ever.