Monthly Archives: May 2003

Frequently Asked Questions: FAQ

images You’ve got questions, we’ve got answers, and if you don’t see it here just ask.

Q: What is hooping? A: Introduction to hooping.

Q: How do you learn to hula hoop? A: How to hula hoop.

Q: How do you make a hula hoop? A: Find out here.

Q: Where can I find an adult-size hoop near me? A: Our advertisers will ship hoops pretty much anywhere, but if you want some help finding the hoop business nearest you send us an email. We know most everybody out there.

Q: How do I start a hoop group in my area? A: If you’ve checked and there isn’t one near you to join, or you just want to start another one anyway, this will help you out.

Q: How many calories can I burn hula hooping? A: You can pretty much burn a minimum of 210 calories per 30 minute session. The test subjects in that study were new hoopers and the better you get the more “active” you are while hooping which increases your caloric burn. Numerous people have done personal tests that have delivered stats as high as 600 calories an hour, but that’s based entirely on self reporting and not scientific study.

Q: Can you lose weight hula hooping? A: We personally know many hoopers that have lost weight hooping. Hooping.org’s Founder Philo Hagen lost 50 pounds. We know people who have lost over 100 pounds. So in a nutshell – absolutely.

Q: I started hooping and have bruises. Is this normal?: A: It is for a lot of people, but read this for more information. Generally speaking once the bruises go away you will most likely never have them again. It’s an odd sort of “right of passage” of hooping and I’m not quite sure why we get them initially and then not at all. Taking a break to let them heal is a good idea. Exceptions can happen if you’re a) using a heavily weighted hoop (generally the labels with those things warn you not to use them for more than ten minutes a day for a reason) or if you have anemia or a condition causing you to bruise really easy. The vast majority of the time though it’s nothing to be concerned about.

Q: I’m thinking about starting a hoop business of my own. What should I call it? A: Check out our Hooping Names Directory for performers and businesses so you can be sure you’re not choosing a name that is already in use. Hooping.org encourages you not to choose one that is even confusingly similar – that’s what the directory is there for.

Q: How do I advertise on Hooping.org? A: You can find out here.

Q: I want to nominate a video or photo or tutorial, etc, to appear on Hooping.org. How do I do that? A: You can find that out over here.

Q: My question wasn’t answered. How do I contact Hooping.org?

What Goes Around, Comes Around

anah-thumb by Ariel Meadow Stallings

The hula-hoop has crept back into the American consciousness. Over the last decade, the hoop has found itself rediscovered as a dancing partner, performance art, meditation tool, and unintentional exercise device.

“The hoop is going to be widespread. I see it going into pop culture; I see 17-year-old TRL fans wanting to do this. I see Britney Spears calling me to ask for lessons,” prophesizes Anah Reichenbach, a 27-year-old Los Angeles native and hooping instructor, performer, and manufacturer. Reichenbach has a blond Mohawk, a tattoo that curls over her left shoulder, and has been spreading her form of hoop gospel since she first picked up a hula-hoop at a world music festival five years ago. She started making and selling her own shortly there-after, crafting adult-sized hoops that are heavier and larger in diameter than the plastic Wham-O versions still available at Toys “R” Us nationwide.

The most notable difference between this most recent wave of hoop popularity and its former incarnations is that contemporary hooping is most often partnered with music. Hoops have been popular within the nation’s jam-band community since the mid-90s, when Colorado band The String Cheese Incident started tossing hoops into the crowd at concerts. “Cheese heads” are known for swiveling their way through sets of music, and Anah guesses that it was one of The String Cheese Incident’s hoops that she first picked up in 1997.

Hooping first registered on my cultural radar in December of 2000, when a friend told stories of a woman with a hoop dancing at a Moontribe desert rave. That dancer was Anah, who seems to have acted as the land bridge that hooping traversed across the divide between the hippy and raver continents. From that Moontribe gathering in 2000, the hoop meme spread through the West Coast’s underground rave community, with hoops making appearances at clubs in San Francisco, fire performances in Portland, raves in Seattle, and forest parties in Vancouver, BC. Dancing with a hoop adds an extra dimension of rhythmic sensuality to any dance, whether the accompaniment is spaced-out jam-band noodlings or the throb of 135 b.p.m. electronic music.

Part of the fun of owning a hoop is loaning it to others. A typical introduction finds the potential hooper demurring, “Oh no, I couldn’t. I’m too old. I’ve never been able to keep a hula hoop going.” The weight and size of the newer hoops make them significantly easier to keep rotating around even super-sized waists, and most people pick up the motion within moments. Then comes the laughter.

“It’s a common response,” Anah concurs, when I recount hearing everyone from my 60-year old father, to middle-aged women, to guy friends in their twenties howl with glee when they first get the knack of hooping. “Something about the hoop is so compelling. People really respond on a very deep level.”

The swiveling hip movement of hula hooping is inherently sensual, yet it doesn’t seem overtly sexual, despite the use of muscles normally reserved for late night encounters. Exercising the pelvis in a way that feels playful, calming, and deeply meditative, playing with a hula-hoop is akin to karmic masturbation. Anah admits that hoops have helped her through some sexual “dry spells,” explaining that hooping “gives you an outlet to express your sexuality and your sensuality in a really healthy, non-degrading, non-nasty way.”

Grown-ups playing with hula-hoops may be too busy giggling and dancing to notice, but they’re also getting a low-impact workout. Hooping tones several muscle groups, including the obliques, hip flexors, and gluteals; massages intestines; and is mildly cardio-vascular. This kind of “accidental workout” is especially novel in the larger context of LA’s “feel the burn” exercise culture. Rather than grunting over the treadmill, doing penance for last night’s indulgence, hoopers at Anah’s recent workshop in Hollywood laughed and danced around smiling. Sweatshirts came off, muscles were toned, and no one watched the clock.

“There’s no self-hate involved. It’s just loving yourself, whoever you are, allowing yourself to feel good,” Anah muses, and then remembers selling a customized hoop to a woman who she guessed was well over 300 pounds. “I spent probably 10 minutes teaching her how to use it, and her whole being just lit up. Hooping touches these deep places that we tend to ignore after a while … she walked away like she had just bought a new car.”

As the new wave of hula-hoops creeps steadily into under- and above-ground culture, one can’t help but worry that it’ll go the way of another recent break-out performance art: fire dancing. When I query Anah about how hooping can avoid the stagnation that fire performances have succumbed to over the last year, she ventures, “the reason why fire performing has become so stagnant is that in the beginning, it seemed so dangerous. But the more you see it, the more you know it’s not really dangerous. It’s just eye-candy. It’s a cheap thrill.” Hoop performances run the risk of being equally cheap a thrill, but perhaps the hoop’s saving grace will be that it’s a familiar toy that anyone can pick up and try. In its accessibility lies its capacity for joy … and who doesn’t need more of that?

Introduction to Hooping

intropic1 “Hooping” is the modern term for hula hooping with larger customized hoops. There are more and more people hooping all over America and around the world, but what the hell are they doing?

Historical Background: The hoop has a long history, which pre-dates the 1950s hula hooping fad by several thousand years.

Hooping began creeping back into the American collective cultural consciousness a decade ago. Certainly, fans of The String Cheese Incident deserve some credit for kicking off the second revolution of hooping. The band has been known to toss hoops into the audience during shows since the mid-90s, and their fans began spreading the joy of hooping everywhere. Soon hooping began showing up at underground dance community events and raves. If you’d like to read more about this resurgant wave of hula hooping, check out: What Goes Around Comes Around.

intropic2 Hooping vs. Hula Hooping: Hooping is way more fun than the hula hooping you remember as a child, because the bigger and heavier the hoop, the slower it rotates around your body. This means that even if you think you can’t hoop, with one of these hoops, you can! Everybody can hoop, regardless of age, size, or sense of rhythm. When you’re using a customized hoop that’s four feet in diameter, the rotation is slow enough that even clumsy amateurs can keep the hoop going — and it’s not too hard to get into dancing and even doing tricks.

Hooping also just feels good. Another advantage of a bigger heavier hoop is that as it circles your waist, it gives you a solid massage. Your intestines and organs get a firm rythmic rubbing. It feels great! Some claim that hooping has other energetic benefits as well, but I can only speak for myself: I find hooping quite meditative, and perhaps more importantly, hooping makes me smile. Playing with a hoop works up a nice sweat, and like any cardiovascular exercise, it can hit the reset button on a bad mood. It’s simply a lot of fun; and I’m a firm believer that fun is healthy!

Want more inspiration?
How To Start Hula Hooping
Make Your Own Hula Hoop (easy!)

2010 Update: So, What Exactly Is Hooping Again?