For me, hula-hoop is an enchanted object, which inevitably brings people together, while setting a very definite boundary between the outside world and me. It's something of an invisible shield, which attracts the eyes of the audience, but keeps its driving force safely protected.
EVERYONE can hoop. If you can tap your foot in time with music, you can hoop. A common mistake is for people to pick up a kiddie 50-gram hoop, squeeze it over their waist and proclaim - "SEE? I told you I couldn’t do it!” That's not the kind of hooping I am talking about. I am talking about a plastic ring, with a 40" diameter and almost a kilo of weight - the most suitable hoop for beginners. Something slightly less bulky for those, who can keep it on their waist and plenty of kiddie ones to taste the difference.
I won’t bore you with self-evident benefits, which derive from hooping, but I will mention two, which in my opinion don't get half as much attention as they deserve.
1. Hooping is good for your brain. Hula hooping, as well as poi and other variations of flow arts, are not far from juggling. In fact, you can use hoops to juggle, and juggling, as science has proven, positively affects your brain and promotes the formation of new pathways within it (read more here: http://www.ox.ac.uk/news/2009-10-12-juggling-enhances-connections-brain).
2. Hooping benefits the sex drive. Unfortunately, Oxford hasn't done a study on this particular subject, but take my word for it - many others have confirmed the same.
What will we do?
We will hoop on our waist and learn to move around while doing so. We will attempt to chest hoop and learn tricks to help that process. We will discover the "off-body concept" and the variety of movement it offers.
Finally, and this has been my dream since I've started hooping, we will host a Hoopstacle Challenge - a friendly team competition in getting through an obstacle course with a hula-hoop!
My hooping background
I met my first hula-hoop, the night I met my future husband, which is the only reason why I know that I've been hooping since October 2009. It was a big and heavy hoop, which despite my best efforts, I could not keep up. My bruised ego went home and found my son's 50g kiddie hoop, which, naturally only made matters worse. Then someone's casual remark about learning from YouTube led me to discover the hula-underground. I quickly acquired my first 40 inches of plastic hoop goodness and continued to cover myself in bruises, this time a lot more palpable. To say that I became obsessed would not be an understatement. I hooped for two hours, almost every day for over a year. If I went outside, the hoop went with me, so much, that in our little East London homestead, I became known as the "hula-girl".
I went on hooping retreats and diligently learned new tricks, to finally face the BIG question - do I want to be a performer? It sounded like great fun, so I went on to stomp on stages at Freekuency festival and Indigo at the O2, as well as a few other small gigs. Except I didn't like it. I hated the "big deal" that went along with being on stage as well as the idea of having a set routine and not being able to go with the flow. So, I bowed out, and since then have kept hooping as my preferred method of exercise.
If any part of my hooping journey sounds interesting to you, I'll be happy to share more of my experience and suggest some useful resources to get you going.
I look forward to hooping together in October.