While I enjoy The Hoopie Awards and Hooping Idol as much as anyone, I have a few confessions to make. During those hazy, romantic days when I first fell for my hoop, I was filled with hooping aspirations too. There were countless videos to study and tricks to master. I started making and gifting hoops, thinking in the back of my mind that this would be a fun way to make some extra money. Maybe set up a table at a local craft fair and spread the hoop love to my community. It was a whole new world that I discovered and it was all I could do to pry my attention away long enough to take care of my day job and to spend a few minutes a day with my husband and daughter.
A fellow hooper recently told me that some of her friends were hesitant to give hooping a try because they “weren’t a super hooper like her.” That really struck a chord with me. One of the feelings I had to push through on my first trip to Hoopcamp was the worry that I did not fit in because I was not a performer and enjoyed a more casual relationship with hooping. That experience, combined with my exposure to a broad mix of people as a writer for Hooping.org, has taught me something worth repeating here. It is okay to be a casual hooper.
While my enthusiasm for hooping remains high, my aspirations as a hooper: not so much anymore. Is it okay to confess something like that on a website that is devoted to all things hoop-related? Well, yes, it is. Because among our devoted Hooping.org members and site visitors there are others like me. Those who love watching others perform but have no plans to do so ourselves. Those who thrill from learning something new with the hoop, but are equally happy to spend a blissful 30 minutes waist hooping with their beat-up old hoop (yes, a big hoop). To you, my fellow casual hoopers, I offer the following confessions.
1. I like to hoop indoors. I’ve hooped on the beach and it was heavenly, listening to the crash of the waves, feeling the sun on my face and smelling the salty air. My travel hoop will always be included when I pack for a weekend at the shore. But most of the year I am far from the beach and it’s either too hot, too cold, too wet or too dark outside when I finally have the opportunity to hoop. There are two rooms in my house where I like to hoop: in my finished basement/office, and in my family room. True, the ceilings are not high enough to allow for a lot of off-body movement (a collection of scuff marks will attest to that), but there is plenty of space for isolations and for moving the hoop up and off my body into a halo. And I can waist hoop without crashing into anything, which leads to my second confession.
2. I like to waist hoop. I also like to hip hoop, shoulder hoop and chest hoop, but waist hooping is my favorite. I can keep the hoop spinning indefinitely, and have recently built up my strength in my non-dominant direction to the point where there is barely a difference now. Waist hooping feels good and it’s fun. Especially with a big, heavy hoop. It grounds me.
3. I like to hoop in front of the TV. I have expanded my iTunes collection incredibly since I started hooping. Hooping.org typically lists the music tracks with each video posted and watching them has introduced me to songs that never would have been on my radar otherwise. I love hooping to music, but there are days I really just want to watch TV while I hoop. Part of it is the need for multitasking. After a long day of working, I may find myself with only an hour to myself. Do I hoop? Or do I veg out in front of the TV for some much-needed downtime? Happily, I can do both simultaneously. Remember that old episode of Seinfeld when George discovered the secret pleasure of eating deli meat while he was in bed with his girlfriend, thus combining two of his favorite pastimes? This is kind of like that (and way less gross). I am currently working my way through six seasons of Dexter while whittling my waist and burning calories. A guilty pleasure that is not-so-guilty after all.
4. I like hooping as a workout. Hooping is a form of dance and expression and outreach and so many things. But it is also a workout. A great one, at that. And if that sounds too utilitarian a reason to love hooping, that’s just too bad. When I first saw hooping in a women’s health magazine, I was stunned. It seemed too good to be true that an activity that was so playful and fun — a TOY for goodness’ sake – could actually provide a legitimate cardio workout. But we’ve seen the studies and we’ve felt the muscle aches. Hooping burns calories, tightens muscles, improves balance and shapes bodies. I am joyfully embracing hooping as my go-to form of daily exercise. Finally, I’ve replaced my old “no pain, no gain” mentality with the simple mantra: “no pain.”
5. I like hooping in private. Don’t get me wrong. Some of the happiest experiences I have had hooping have been in the company of friends and fellow hoopers. Whether it was pulling out my pile of hoops at a friend’s barbeque last summer or introducing my girlfriends to hooping at my hoop class birthday party, there is nothing like sharing the hoop love with others. But I also crave privacy during my hoop practice. It is “me” time at its very best, and I enjoy the solitude. While I may bare my soul here when I share my writing, I must confess: I will not be videotaping my practice sessions anytime soon. I prefer watching hoop videos to creating them – and that is fine.
So those are my confessions. I love hooping, but I love it for my own reasons, reasons that fit my life perfectly. I have moved passed the obsessive love into a happy co-habitation inside the circle that provides daily interaction, but still allows room for the rest of my life. Do I still consider myself a hooper? You’d better believe it, and I hope to always be. Now it’s your turn. What do you have to confess?
Hooping.org Columnist Abby Schwartz has been sharing her hoop journey with readers almost since it first began back in 2010. A freelance writer specializing in health, wellness and fitness, we’re delighted to have her on the Hooping.org team. She lives in Lansdale, Pennsylvania, USA.