[Hooping.org columnist Lara Eastburn knows that size does matter.]
I am 5 foot 3 inches tall. But my first hoop measured 5 foot 6 inches. I’d built it from Jason Unbound’s indispensable instructions and wrapped it clumsily in silver duct tape. I had no idea what I was doing, except that I was hell bent on learning to hoop. And none of the other 20 smaller hoops I’d made was getting the job done. I was an active person, and fit. I’d just lost 80 pounds by taking up running. But that wasn’t helping in my hoop. With a new and unfamiliar body, I was clumsy and had no sense of myself and the space around me. I ran into doorways, tripped over my own feet, and damned if I could keep a hoop up. This silver goliath of a hoop, however, was going to change all that. Lean in close for a story about the Big Hoop That Could and why every hooper should have one.
I could barely lift that hoop. But when I got her started, she kept going! I was thrilled. We all know that the larger and heavier the hoop, the more slowly it orbits around the body. That was part of what was happening. I found, though, that every time that hoop slammed into me as I was learning to hoop, I was also discovering my own body and mapping how it moved. With every revolution, I would think to myself, “Aha, there I am.” That was 11 years ago now. I don’t know if I would have become a hooper without “Silverado”, my giant, brutal taskmaster. I might very well have given up without her tutelage. Which leads me to wonder how many people do give up before they even get started because there’s nothing in the room bigger than a 42 incher.
So I was delighted to learn how my buddies over at Punk Rock Hoops in Texas are making sure that never happens at their hoop jams and classes. Part of a duo with her sister Blythe, Rowan TwoSisters came up with “The Hoop of Self-Esteem”. Her inspiration came from her own disappointing first experience with a hoop. Says Rowan, “I left my first hoop class in tears. No one sized me to a hoop that matched my dismal skill level, my well padded body and my amazonian height.” So when Rowan started teaching, she knew she needed a solution that would bring hooping success to anyone. She explains, “We added a hoop to our class set of beater hoops that me at my worst could hoop with, the hoop that ANYBODY could get to stay up after 15 minutes or less of practice.”
While Punk Rock Hoops’ “Hoops of Self-Esteem” range in size from 46”-52”, there are no rules to how big you can make yours. Mine was 66”! Here are Rowan’s DIY instructions: “To create your own Hoop of Self-Esteem, measure it against yourself, and make it somewhere in between your girls [bosom] and your collarbone. Use a cheater strip of gaffer tape on the inside of your hoop, put some extra tape on there to weight it a little bit and there ya’ go.” As a doula/midwife, though, Rowan cautions against using any tubing bigger than 3/4″ 160psi to protect against repeated compression on abdominal cavities, reproductive organs and kidneys. Today, Blythe and Rowan also run Hottie Hoop Camp, the body-friendly hoop retreat where their Hoops of Self-Esteem are always on-hand.
Their success at building a thriving and loyal local hooping community is due in part to anticipating the needs of any hooper and providing the tools they’ll need to feel great in a hoop. As a community that prides itself on embracing every potential hooper, I think we can all take a tip from the TwoSisters and make a point to have at least one “Hoop of Self-Esteem” in our classes, at our jams, at our gatherings and in our backyards. Here’s to no one ever leaving a hoop class in tears or giving up before they even get started. And here’s to you, my beloved “Silverado.” I’ll never forget you.
Lara Eastburn has been dancing in meadows and singing with the moon while spinning in circles for eons at Superhooper.org. She’s also the driving force behind Circumference with online and live business and marketing classes for hoop makers, instructors, and performers.