[Hooping.org columnist Shannon Herrington takes a closer look at hooping certifications.]
If you’ve been around the hoopersphere for any length of time, you might have stumbled across these people that call themselves “Certified Hoop Instructors.” While the hoop instructor part is pretty self explanatory, given that they are someone who instructs people on how to hoola, the question here is, how did they become certified? What does being certified mean exactly? Are all certified hoop instructors the same? Do you need to be taught how to hoop by a teacher who has that word attached to their title? If you’ve been hooping for awhile and are considering teaching others, do you need to be certified? And should these certifications be a source of concern for the greater hooping community? One thing seems to be clear, while hooping certifications do not necessarily make the hooper, it does seem like a good time for us to take a step back and take a closer look at certifications and just what they’re all about.
When someone says they are a Certified Hoop Instructor, what this means is that they’ve been certified by some sort of program that was created by either one of various hooping brands that offer this service or possibly by a singular hooper as well who has decided to teach others how they teach and give them a certificate that says they, pun intended, jumped through the necessary hoop to get it.
When you go to your local gym and you meet a trainer or fitness professional, these instructors are certified under pretty clear industry standards. There are, in fact, exams they must successfully pass, and there are college courses to teach them what they need and ultimately prepare them for their exams. Want to teach yoga? Here in Kentucky you need to complete a 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training certificate program consisting of 180 classrooms hours and 20 internship/externship hours. When it comes to hooping, however, most of the currently available hooping certifications mean very little by comparison.
While hooping certifications are not necessary, they do help the hooping community in various ways and there are various programs out in the great world of hooping. Many of these certifications originate from hoop company brands, like BodyHoops, HoopGirl, Hoopnotica, the Canadian Hoop Appeal and others. Other programs are more relative to individuals who teach how they teach like Betty Shurin of Betty Hoops or Mary Pulak of Hooked on Hooping. Hoop Revolution takes an even different approach allowing you to be certified in mentoring your students. Still others offer other types of certifications that are different still. It’s become impossible to keep track of them all. Some allow you to use their brand for an extra fee. Most give you materials of some kind, which vary. Some programs include DVDs, class manuals and more depending on the course that is chosen. BodyHoops will give you a few hoops, a DVD and music. Hoopnotica will give you a manual and DVDs. Some includes discounts on their products and updates to their manuals when they become available. Others include the discount in their optional licensing. And as smaller brands and more individuals seem to be getting on the certification band wagon, the options can be daunting. The biggest key is to research your perfect certification. Location might be your deciding factor, though it doesn’t have to be.
Within the many choices when it comes to teacher certification, some are now offering distance training through the mail or Internet. Body Hoops Distance Learning Teacher Training requires attendees to get their lessons by video online at Hooping University. Others offer “hoops for kids” programs which might be good for hoopers intending to hoop with children in their classes. Most certifications programs require re-certification for an additional fee after a year or two. These programs are pricey considering you could pay around $150 to $600, excluding the reoccurring costs of re-certifications (depending on the levels and program choices). Body Hoops online distance classes will set you back $375 and you won’t get your CEUs if you take their classes online. Let me explain that last part.
Of all of the certifications out there, two are approved by fitness associations like Aerobics and Fitness Association of America and the American Council on Exercise. These programs are BodyHoops (approved by ACE and AAFA) and HoopGirl (approved by AAFA). If a personal trainer were to take a BodyHoops hooping certification class, they’d be rewarded with continuing education units (CEUs) for their American Council of Exercise (ACE) certification. Programs operating with approval from fitness organizations show that the certification has a safe and approved written curriculum and the inventor has to be a group fitness instructor and certified personal fitness trainer. Final approval for hoop programs takes many months to achieve. A hoop instruction certification from one of these programs may help a hooper gain access to teaching in a gym as well.
With today’s economy and the large fees that some are charging though, will a potential hoop teacher be able to recoup these costs through classes? We are also talking about teaching people how to hula hoop, leaving me to wonder if this isn’t just one giant scheme to sell ice to eskimos. Heather doesn’t think so. She chose to get a certification through Hoopnotica. She told me, “[Hoopnotica] has name recognition having been in the hooping business for a significant amount of time, and that appealed to me.” Another point she brought up is the fact that most hoopers forget how to break down the move. Heather says, “The most important thing I learned during the process was how to break down moves for people who have no experience hooping at all, and which ways are easiest to learn. Once you’ve been hooping for a while, it’s hard to remember how to do it ‘wrong.'”
Some people are natural teachers, but having someone to guide a hooper to teach can be amazing for the un-natural teacher. I took a beginner-intermediate class with Caroleeena. Even though I hadn’t signed up for teacher certification, she taught the class like everyone would be teachers. The next few days, I implemented what she said in her class. The confidence of teaching with a proven technique was extremely rewarding.
A certification may open doors for some potential teachers. Abby Albaum from Hoola Monsters found it impossible to teach in gyms in the beginning of her teaching career. Through certifying through Hoopgirl, she was able to learn how to teach, show gym managers the validity through hooping, and didn’t have to reinvent the wheel. In Abby’s area, most gyms preferred having a certification. Other places like dance studios or yoga studios, didn’t care much about a certification. Abby says about her training experience, “From day one, Christabel told us this class was to empower us to teach on our own and that the HoopGirl program was to serve as a reference point/ guide.” Over time, she was able to develop and hone her own teaching practices. “I have been a full-time hoop dance instructor for more than two years now, and I’ve experimented a lot,” she said. “I’ve held on to the teaching practices that my students respond well to, and I’ve omitted the things that they don’t.” In January of 2012, Abby will be launching a hooping certification program of her own, which she intends to have approved by fitness organizations
While some seem to know what they are doing, anyone make up a random hoop certification and more are coming out every year. Some hoopers will choose to pay the price for one and others will not. Certifications are not necessary for teaching hoop dancing and hopefully certifications will never be necessary as they are in other fields. While some see certified hooping instructors giving credibility, knowledge, and professionalism to hooping, my favorite local teachers are not certified and they will work with me till I get a move down. Just try telling all of the amazing hoopers out there that they need to have a hoop certification in order to teach. How many of those teaching hoop certification programs have a certification? The biggest thing that makes a hooper a great teacher in my book is the passion to spread the hoop love and loving time with their own hoop.