Ok, we admit it. Sometimes we’re not exactly sure what hooping is anymore either. Are you? When Hooping.org began in April of 2003 we defined the word as “a term for hula hooping with large customized hoops.” Hoopalicious had begun pioneering this new phenomenon only a few years earlier, taking the larger hoops that had begun appearing at String Cheese Incident shows to the streets and clubs of Los Angeles. Jason Strauss, who followed many jam bands including String Cheese, put the instructions for making your own hoop online. Others were beginning to figure things out for themselves in other cities as well, and when Jason handed me this great big hoop at a party for the first time, those of us who were hooping back then all had some things in common. Our hoops were hand made from black polyethylene irrigation tubing, and they were larger and heavier than anything the world had seen before. The extra space inside the circle gave us room to dance too. We cranked our music of choice and you could find us all hooping, mostly just on our waists, for hours on end.
Those that still had their hands on an original Wham-o style 1950′s hoop would occasionally write to complain about our definition. “Are we not hoopers too? What kind of elitists are you trying to be anyway?” From the beginning, our definition was never really meant to be exclusionary, but simply addressed our need for new language. When we told our friends and family that we’d discovered “hooping” it helped to differentiate that this was something new and different. Dropping the “hula” facilitated that – and saved a lot of us from being threatened with trademark lawsuits (I’m not joking). “Your toy store hoops would never do,” we exclaimed. And yet now, several years later, you’ve probably seen a hooper here on Hooping.org rocking it out with a hoop that isn’t any different in size than the ones we had adamantly proclaimed were useless. So what is this thing called “hooping” again exactly?If you’ve been reading Hooping.org over the years, you’ve undoubtedly seen an increase in articles, videos and photos here that don’t exactly subscribe to our definition. The longer we’ve all hooped, the more we’ve all revolved, and tangents have evolved for some in a veritable litany of directions. Some have taken to using twins (two smaller hoops of the same size) or minis (really small hoops used for poi-style spinning). Circus performers, initially regarded as “the other” for using the wrong size hoops, began to inspire many in their hoop development and performance. Others began isolating their regular hoops into off body moves in such a way that their waist is never even utilized, often influenced by poi spinning – and influencing poi spinners as well. Burlesque dancers, many of whom used the original old-school size in keeping with their retro movement rebirth, delightfully spun their way into our circle. And while large metal hoops known as Cyr Wheels that are big enough to stand in rolled in, others became fascinated with hanging hoops in the air to perform aerial maneuvers. Hooping today can mean all kinds of things actually and is clearly no longer defined simply by the size and weight of your hoop.
The original definition, however, still has tremendous relevance nonetheless. From it springs a plethora of cottage-industry small-businesses across North America and around the world, busily making customized hoops just for you with your body in mind. When newbie hoopers, be it online or at the local hoopjam, are simply just not getting it, we send them looking for that large customized hoop on the web, or at the park, knowing that it’s slower rotation will be just the thing so that they can “get it” too. The phrase “it’s not you that has the problem, it’s your hoop,” is just as relevant today as it was when Hooping.org began. While Wham-o may have lightened with their threats of litigation, the fact does remains too that the term “hula hoop” is still universally used as the singular definition of a fad that came and went. Hooping, however, isn’t going anywhere. Why? Somewhere along the way we discovered our hoops were great for our emotional health, helping many adults learn to play again. We’ve found them to be valuable as a meditation tool, bringing us back into the center of our selves and our lives. They’ve proven to be incredible for our bodies, building core strength, burning amazing calories and getting us in the best shape of our lives.