[Hooping.org columnist Shea Brock gets winterized.]
by Shea Brock
I love the change of seasons, especially from summer to fall. The leaves so bright and vibrant on the trees, the rustling sounds they make as I walk. I love the smell of fires being lit, cold ears and noses, the anticipation of scarves and mittens and gloves. As a plus size lady who loves to bundle the cold weather seasons are my best friend. Halloween is my favorite holiday and I love the parade of holidays that start now and run through the rest of the year. But even with all of my seasonal excitement there’s just one problem. It gets cold outside, and if you’re a hooper you might be finding yourself wondering, “Where in the hell am I supposed to hoop now?” It’s a predicament I’ve found myself faced with year after year, so here are five suggestions, or cheats if you will, to help you make it thru the winter while still keeping your flow a Go.
1. Layers, Layers, Layers: Do you remember that old episode of Friends? The one where Joey is trying on ALL of Chandler’s clothes? That’s what I am talking about people, it’s time for some serious layering. Stockings, legwarmers, shorts, sweat pants, thermal top, T-shirt, jacket, scarf, gloves and a hat. Once you’re all dressed you’re ready to hoop and you can slowly strip the layers down as you begin to warm up. You will be amazed how far you can go. Make a game out of it.
2. Accessorize, Accessorize, Accessorize: Leg warmers, the 80’s dance staple has found a revived home in the hoop community. I, for one, couldn’t live without them. See, I love leg hooping; I can literally spin that puppy around my thighs for hours. Pants, however, are a hindrance – even in winter. I need my short shorts offering lots of skin to help keep that sucker spinning. And if bare legs is a must for your hoopiness as well, make knee socks and leg warmers your new best friend. You can also vamp up your gloves. I loooove hand and arm hooping too. But imagine my dismay when trying to hoop with gloves on; they go flying off in all kinds of interesting directions! So what’s a girl afraid of frostbite to do? Experiment! My solution, two words: Puffy paint. Get yourself a dollar pair of cotton gloves, a tube of puffy paint and paint the palm of the glove. Works like a charm. It can also be used on the soles of your socks to make them grippy on hardwood floors, which might be the case now if you’re hooping indoors.
3. Alter Your Practice: I love throwing my hoops in the air and catching them. That’s one reason I got an LED hoop – I was tired of losing that sucker in the dark! But when it comes to winter hooping and moving my act indoors the big tosses need to get traded in for smaller and more precision based moves. Work on your twins or minis. Look up some videos of hand balancing and hand/arm rolls. Challenge yourself to a 30 day waist and/or shoulder only hooping challenge. There are a ton of alterations you can do to make it work that don’t require having a huge space or grand ceilings.
4. Winterize Your Hoop: Sometimes when adding all the layers of clothes, I often go back to a hoop with a larger diameter; it just slows things down some. I have also been known to add some extra gaffers or even tennis racket tape to the inside of my hoop to make it even stickier for winter. It aint always as pretty, but it’s highly functional.
5. They Have The Heat On Over There: I am lucky in the fact that my town has a few great community centers. Look around, what does your town offer? Will they let you use a dance space as long as it is not being used? Can you use a corner of the basketball court? What about a racquetball court? Most places will let you pay the entrance fee and use the specialty rooms when they are not in use for no extra cost. You can also approach a local dance studio and ask about costs for renting a room. See if you can get enough hoopers together to pay for it. You can have an indoor hoop jam every week where everybody chips in. I mean why go it alone? I am sure there are a few people in the same boat as you. There may be a yoga studio that could use a few extra bucks. One group I know found success through their local library. There are lots of possibilities.
Those are my suggestions and some of you probably have some to. It’s always tricky to keep up a good hoop practice when you’re forced to be indoors for months, but with a little ingenuity and creative thinking you can make it just another leg in your hoop journey. Before long the clouds will part and the flowers will break the surface and we can all head out into the sunshine again. Our friends in the Southern Hemisphere are doing that right now! But until it’s our turn again, happy hooping and stay warm. Its gonna be a cold one out there.