I returned home from a weekend at the Jersey shore to find a special gift waiting for me on my front porch. It was ten o’clock on a Saturday night in August of 2011 and I was perplexed for a second before realizing that the circular package wrapped in heavy brown paper must be the hoop I had ordered online. In the chaos of a weekend spent with family visiting from Florida I had forgotten about it, but once I tore into the wrapper and held that teal and purple striped adult-sized hoop in my hands, I couldn’t wait to give it a whirl.
Do you remember your first time? It was love at first spin, and I remember laughing and feeling like I was getting away with something. I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: it blows my mind that something so fun can be so good for me, too. As I have learned more about hooping, met other hoopers and shared my own personal journey through Hooping.org, I have discovered that hooping has given me so much more than just a fun way to exercise. In fact, here are eight surprising gifts the hoop has brought into my life.
1. A way to meditate that fits my life. For years I’d been telling myself I really needed to start meditating. And I never did. But recently I realized that those minutes spent inside my hoop when I am not working on a move or consciously exercising, are moments of true meditation. When I lose myself in the simple act of spinning the circle on my body and my mind is quiet, I have achieved a key goal of meditation. And unlike carving out time each day to sit and focus on breathing, hooping is something I do make time for. I know that traditional meditation has value, but for now, finding my center inside the hoop works for me.
2. A passport into a whole new world. Sure, every time you take up a new hobby there is an opportunity to learn and grow. But with hooping I am still curious and fascinated by this previously unknown world of hoop dance and performance. One of the things I find so exciting about the culture of hooping is that it also encompasses so many different subcultures as well. If I could draw a circle and write the word hooping in the middle, from that circle extend lines out to countless sources of influence: burlesque, belly dancing, ballet, hip hop, folk music festivals, circus acts, yoga. It seems endless!
3. Connection to a community. There really is a recognition you share when you discover that someone else enjoys hooping too. Like you are both in on this really great secret and instantly, your obsession is validated. Hooping.org has expanded this sense of community for me, connecting me to fellow hoopers across the U.S. and across the pond. There really is something special about hoopers, too. Is it me or does this feel like a much more accepting and supportive group of people than most? Maybe it has to do with hooping being a form of expression. For me, it’s hard to be anything but welcoming and happy when my passion revolves around a childhood toy.