[Hooping.org columnist Abby Schwartz may be new to hooping, but as a freelance writer specializing in health, wellness and fitness, we think you're going to enjoy following her hoop journey. This week she sets out to spread the hoop love.]
We live in a time when connecting to people is as easy as clicking a few keys on your computer or smart phone. Suddenly, you are “friends” again with the boy who grew up on your block, the girls you played jump rope with in fourth grade, your old buddies from summer camp, your college roommate, the coworkers you used to hang with at your former job, the neighbors you partied with on Friday nights at your first apartment…the possibilities are endless. But what happens when you want to connect on a deeper level?
Like most people, I have my “friends” and I have my friends – the latter being the ones who are currently in my life in real time, who share my daily ups and downs, the ones who know what really makes me tick. For someone who is happy to share her personal feelings in a public column, I can be surprisingly private when it comes to exposing certain parts of my life to my larger circle. Wanting to connect on a deeper level with the friends from my past, however, would require more intimacy on my part so I decided to start sharing more about who I really am. More specifically, that I’m a hooper.
I started by putting my Hooping.org profile picture up as my Facebook photo and with each Hooping.org column I’ve written, I’ve begun adding a link to my Facebook profile. Friends who previously had no idea I was into writing, not to mention hooping, began to see this different side of me and many responded with a show of support. A few asked about hooping and I happily shared my experiences, eager to spread the word about this best kept secret. It went so well, I wanted to expand my circle even further.
I gifted my close friend Randi with a hoop and showed her how to use it, encouraging her to check out Hooping.org for inspirational videos and tutorials, and happily, I can report that Randi is hooked and has spread the hoop love to her adult daughters, her sisters and several other friends. My dear friend Barbara also took to the hoop as soon as I presented her with one, decorated in yellow, olive green and magenta. In addition to sharing a love of dogs, Barbara and I have a mutual interest in all things spiritual and organic. A reiki master who taught me levels I and II of that form of energy healing, I knew that with her intuitive nature, she would totally get the mind/body benefits of hooping and would feel its meditative power. Not only did she get it, she was a natural at moving in the circle.
Kathy is another close friend, a gorgeous, statuesque brunette with a deep soul, a powerfully intuitive heart and a loud, cackling laugh that is highly infectious. Kathy is dealing with an unthinkable loss in her life—that of her beautiful daughter whose life ended suddenly at age 22. A long-time yoga and meditation practitioner, Kathy was already in tune to the benefits of mindful living. I wanted to share with her the healing motion and peaceful joy of hooping, so I gave her a hand-made hoop too, size extra tall.
Exposing my hoop habit to my larger circle and gifting hoops to my closest friends were great ways of spreading the hoop love, but I wanted to expand my circle even further. Last night I had that opportunity.
Randi and her husband Ken hosted a barbeque at their house. Joining my husband, daughter and me would be Barbara, her husband Jeff, and Kathy. I took along three of my large hoops and Randi brought out two of her own. As soon as we finished dinner, we cranked up the music, kicked off our shoes and the five of us girls happily hooped on the grass until the sun went down. Our skill levels varied, but we shared huge grins and whoops of joy whenever one of us pulled off a move, no matter how wobbly. Even my 14-year-old daughter hooped it up, putting aside her embarrassment that her mom, once again, was obsessing on hooping. Of course, to maintain her cool, she continued texting her boyfriend from within the hoop. (Seriously, is nothing sacred?)
Barbara’s husband Jeff was telling me about the tightness he had been feeling in his back. I suggested he try hooping to strengthen his core and loosen things up (requisite disclaimer here: No, I am not a doctor. If you have back issues, please see your physician first.) I handed Jeff a hoop, grabbed my own and gave him a lesson in Hooping 101 (It’s true, Jeff. Even straight men hoop). Within minutes he was waist hooping on his own and was enthusiastically looking forward to hooping alongside his wife. I will happily make Jeff his own hoop this week.
What’s more fun than hooping? Hooping with friends, of course. I’ve been fortunate enough to have made some wonderful new friends thanks to this column, connecting with people who have reached out to me after reading my words. Maybe it’s the warmth and openness within our hooping community or maybe it is the joy-inspiring act of hooping itself that can reach most anyone, but my newfound desire to connect the different facets of my life: work and home, old friends and new, has centered around one theme: the hoop. Add in a fragrant summer night, a soft breeze, lush grass under our toes, a glass or two of chilled white wine, a thumping playlist and an abundance of hoop love and you have a perfect summer evening.