Lisa Lottie of LisaLottie.com recently took the stage not only to hoop, but to give a TEDx talk at TEDx Binghamton University. Her subject matter was her “Weapon of Choice” – the hula hoop, of course, and after sharing her skills with the audience, she shared about her life as well. Lisa’s personal journey, going from a directionless teenager to a hula hoop performer extraordinaire, is due to her finding her passion inside a plastic circle. Hooping has really helped give her life purpose. I had a chat with Lisa to find out more about her TEDx experience, what else is happening in her world these days, and how she came to be the talented hooper we all know and love.
Caitlyn: We were so excited to see your TEDx presentation. Taking hula hooping to the global stage like this is huge. How did you come to be speaking at TEDx Binghamton University?
Lisa: There is a large hoop troupe of girls getting together and hooping while they are studying at Binghamton. The TEDx event is set up entirely by students, so I think what happened was that one of the girls out of the hoop troupe might have been friends on Facebook with one of the organizers and posted my video. The sheer powers of social media landed me an invite for TEDx!
Caitlyn: You speak about the hoop being your “Weapon of Choice”. When you first picked up the hoop, was there a defining moment that you can recall where something clicked and you thought “This is what I want to do with my life”?
Lisa: I think it was definitely the opportunity that I got from Angie Mack, my hoop guru who I used to buy my hoops from. She initially got offered the job in the Indian circus, which she turned down, but she thought I might like to do it. When I said yes to that, I just had no way back. I was going to have to do it and I was going to have to take it seriously! That was the click, for sure, that made me start approaching hooping in a training-like fashion. It’s 7AM, I need to be at work at 9.30AM, so right now I need to take an hour to train hoops, and an hour in my lunch break, and an hour after I finish.
Caitlyn: Seeing videos of a hooper of your caliber, it’s hard to believe you were ever a beginner. Can you give us some insight into what it was like for you at the start of your hooping journey?
Lisa: Hahaha! It was hilarious! Angie recorded a video for the Fatboy Slim video competition called “That Old Pair Of Jeans”. It’s one of the greatest hoop videos on YouTube. I am actually in that, in the end when there is a bunch of hoopers on the grass all hooping. I remember my friend encouraging me to go to the video set the be an extra for the day. The requirement was: you should be able to hula hoop around your waist for about a minute and I thought: “Oh man, I don’t think I can do that, a whole minute!!!” I’m somewhere on that grass shaking my body around like my life depends on it. I think I actually drop it too at some point! From that day I hooped non-stop. I was obsessed. Angie gave me a few lessons too, which I treated like pure golden eggs of opportunity. For the rest, it was just videos online, just watching everything over and over again, trying to figure it out.
Caitlyn: It’s incredibly inspiring to hear you talk about talent being a byproduct of old fashioned hard work. What was the intensity of your training like back at the beginning and how did it change when you started hula hooping professionally?
Lisa: I think I’ve always been a little bit obsessive when it comes to training. I train hard and most days. I definitely train less hula hooping now than I used to as I don’t have as many goals to reach hooping wise as I once did. When I knew I was going to join a circus, I started to train for 3 to 3.5 hours a day, spread out over the day, sectioned off in skills and performance. So I would do partly just practicing reps and skills and partly I would work on devising a piece. Nowadays I still do that, but in a much larger time frame. So I might have a month off in Australia where I will decide that I am going to hammer a new routine into my system and then I will really just only warm up my hooping, spend an hour or so on flexibility and then I will train repetitions of my routines and not train any new skills what so ever. Training new skills is hard and it requires infinite amounts of time, it’s pretty tough to create something new and say: that skill is going to be in there, when you can’t do it yet and have a deadline. That’s probably what my entire training comes down to – deadlines. And long and short term goals. I definitely used to be a total hippie who was just happy bopping along and learning things on the way. Now I have goals and I do what I need to do to reach them. It’s working as I feel much more accomplished!
Caitlyn: You mentioned the hula hoop being a tool that taught you if you give anything enough time and practice, you become good at it. Have you utilised this learning mindset to other areas of your life outside of hooping?
Lisa: Absolutely, and not only in circus skills. It’s taught me a lot about patience and also about thresholds of pain and discomfort. I guess you could compare it to quitting smoking. Everyone who smokes can quit smoking, but the only way that happens is if they really want it. I really wanted to be a good hula hooper so I made that happen. I’ve done regular dance classes since 2009 and I kind of hate it, but I do it because I know it’s good for my hooping. Yet I don’t aspire to be a great dancer and I know I’ll never be a dancer, because I just don’t enjoy it enough or have the motivation to make that happen. You reap what you sow!
Caitlyn: In your talk, you credit a steep ascent of your skills to the time you spent busking on the streets of London. Do you have any hot tips for how to pull in the crowd?
Lisa: Haha! Be awesome. Just be awesome and confident. No one wants to watch someone apologise on stage. Also pick a good spot and make sure you’ve cleared it with the rest of the “street world” that you can work there. That it’s a good place and that you won’t piss anyone off.
Caitlyn: What does a day in the life of Lisa Lottie look like?
Lisa: Ha! It depends where I am! When I am in London it might be waking up and running by the canal, practicing hooping, stretching, doing some yoga and shows in the evening in the city. Some days I feel like I am just in airports catching flights around the world and explaining that “yes these are hula hoops”. Other days, when I am in Australia, I might walk down by the beach and get my awesome husband to take me for a hand stand session at the outdoor gym. Then I go and play with our part time miniature schnauzer, and take him out to coffee shops to drink flat whites and show off my good-looking dog! Some days I need to do stuff completely non-hooping related at all and just pretend I have a normal life!
Caitlyn: Do you have a career highlight to date?
Lisa: Definitely doing some of the biggest street shows in my life for thousands of people in Canada during the Canadian summer street festival circuit. I always love performing at the Rock in Rio festivals where I get to hula hoop on a stage and pretend like I am a musician, which is hilarious. I totally want to be a rock star in my next life. Oh and TEDx, of course!
Caitlyn: What’s next for Lisa Lottie?
Lisa: Right now I am in London, performing inside shows and hanging out with friends. I’m gearing up for a summer of street shows in Canada and I am also teaching some hooping retreats for the first time ever this year. One in Turkey with Emma Kenna and Satya in May, which I think is going to be absolutely amazing, and one in Mexico for Summer Hooping Mexico in June.
For the rest, the past six months of my life have all been about preparing for some great gigs that are now finally coming together, taking me around the world a lot to perform at corporate events and in shows. It’s really quite amazing how far hooping has come, and the fact that I am playing around with technology and thinking about colours and patterns, as well as choreography and tricks. It is pretty mind blowing, so there is going to be a LOT of that!
Caitlyn: Anything else you’d like to share with the hooping.org community?
Lisa: I LOVE hooping.org and have been a huge fan from the very beginning! A big hug and kiss to Philo and everyone else for keeping the love alive!
Contributor Caitlyn Woods of Spinjoy loves the heck out of hoop dance. It’s her passion baby! She is a hoop dance instructor and performer based in Sydney, Australia, and the only thing she loves more than hoop dance is watching other people come alive inside the hoop, get their dance on and craft their own beautiful, crazy style. Caitlyn also likes to focus her efforts on her vegan lifestyle i.e. the eating part, and watching trash TV. You can also find her on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.