Tag Archive for Hula Hoop Benefits

8 Surprising Gifts Hooping Has Given Me

8 Surprising Gifts Hooping Has Given Meby Abby Schwartz

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.

Getting Our Children Hula Hooping

kids hooping by Bonnie MacDougall

With Michelle Obama and the Center for Disease Control on a mission to wipe out childhood obesity in America, it is no surprise that hula hooping has come into the limelight as one way to maintain health for our kids. Childhood obesity has, after all, more than tripled in the past 30 years here. In a population-based sample of 5- to 17-year-olds, 70% of youth struggling with obesity today already have at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Something obviously has to be done.

Whether or not kids want to exercise, most want to play. Hula hooping is a great way for kids to spin up some exercise without really knowing it. And while that may not be a news flash exactly, it has seemed to me, as a mother, that my boys have been gaining a plethora of other benefits and life skills from picking up the hoop as well. I knew how much the hoop had personally shaped and improved my life as an adult, but I was curious to know just how good is hooping for our kids, and what are all the benefits for them? So I decided to talk with several hoop professionals who are teaching hooping to children to find out. You might be surprised to learn that hooping helps children develop far more than just good exercise habits, especially when practiced with some regularity.

[School assemblies with Hoop It Up Worldwide.]

Kelly Breaux of Hoop It Up Worldwide has been hooping with children for the past ten years. What benefits does Kelly see as she works with these kids? She told Hooping.org, “It definitely improves self esteem in the kids because there is always a skill that a child can master. Also, when we go back to the same schools every year, the kids who are hooping are in better shape and have higher self esteem than those who didn’t keep up with it.” Kelly added, “At our company we call hooping a phenomenon because we have an obesity crisis with kids in our country and it is so easy for them to get hooping and have fun. They learn technique and core cardio. This gets kids to work out because they love it! Often to get boys and girls to exercise for an hour is unheard of.”

[Molly and the Holly Monsters get kids hooping.]

Abby Albaum of Hoola Monster Kids based in St. Petersburg, Florida, has been spinning up things for kids too, including the Molly and the Holly Monsters DVD. What does she see as the benefits of getting kids to hoop beyond the more obvious ones surrounding physical fitness? Abby explained, “I notice kids really come out of their shell as a result of my classes. Some were quiet, very introverted, and something great happens as they find themselves in the hoop. They tend to become more participatory in class. I worked with a little girl once who barely said a word. Then, after hooping with me for about 6 months, she signed up to hoop dance in her school talent show. I went to support her, and she rocked it! Her classmates gave her a standing ovation, and she seems like a totally different kid now. She’s confident and can’t wait to show off her hooping skills. Hooping helps kids build self confidence.”

Hula Hooper At Turners Youth Circus in Louisville, Kentucky, Rebecca Hellemans teaches and choreographs hoop dancing routines for the children involved. Rebecca, also the mother of young hooper Sierra Hellemans, has witnessed the prodigious effects hooping has on children at both a personal and a professional level. Rebecca explained other major benefits that are often overlooked as well. “These are children in development stages of life. The youngest I work with is 5-years-old because, unless they have already been involved in movement activities from an early age (like yoga etc), they are just starting to connect the dots on how to move the hoop around the waist. As they progress in learning new skills, they develop their fine and gross motor skills and coordination through hoop dance.” Rebecca also noted that through learning choreography the children are also working on team building and trust. She said, “As the kids are practicing moves for their routine, for example partner weaves, they must learn cooperation and trust in their team members in order to complete the move without injuring each other.”

[Chloe is the daughter of Jennifer Clair.]

Julia Hartsell Crews of Hoopdrum in Carrboro, North Carolina, has been teaching children’s classes and camps for many years. She has experience teaching all levels of children from elementary school through high school students too. Julia admits that while there are no case studies, as such, through her own personal experience of talking to multitudes of parents, they all agree that hooping 
opened their child up in areas of self confidence and self esteem, especially at the middle school ages when a child may be going through an awkward phase. Her experience working with middle schoolers dealing with peer issues has allowed her to use hooping as a way to dive into those issues, address them gently and stop things before feelings get hurt. “Hooping gives us the opportunity to change behavior,” she explained. “We move with respect and I let them tell me how we can do that. I facilitate the answers by asking them questions. What do we need to be aware of in this class? What could get hurt in this class? We also change behavior by reframing language. Going from ‘I can’t’ to ‘I will’ – teaching them to open possibilities in their world.”

[Mridular Shanker knows all about “I will”. In fact, she’s been keeping herself busy breaking world records. She lives in Detroit, Michigan, USA.]

Julia has seen hooping become a sanctuary for a 9-year-old girl watching her parents go through a divorce, as well as a source of empowerment for an autistic girl who, after hooping with her for two years, developed the confidence to perform in a talent show. The combined years of experience of these four women and the children touched by hooping through their efforts, are evidence to the positive effect the hoop can have in the lives of our kids. Obviously physical fitness in a time when childhood obesity is a considered a crisis is one major draw to hooping, but increased self esteem, body awareness, improvement of fine and gross motor skills, team building, peer relations, better concentration, and a sense of responsibility are just more reasons to get your kid inside the circle. So if you’ve been wondering if hooping is really stimulating your child’s growth… the answer is a resounding YES!


Bonnie MacDougall Bonnie MacDougall of HavenHoopDance has been in the spin since 2002. She lives in Detroit, Michigan, USA, with her two boys. When she’s not dancing madly with her kids, she sells custom made hoops and teaches local and regional hoop dance classes and workshops.

Hula Hoop: The Ultimate Therapist

Hula Hoop Therapyby Megan Smith (Sati Flow)

Therapy is great for a lot of people, but it can be very expensive. You often have to drive across town and there never seems to be any parking. You pay an awful lot of money to someone to ask really important questions like, “So, how does that make you feel?” And when your 50 minutes are up. your time is over, regardless of whether or not you were in the middle of something revelatory and groundbreaking. Lately I’ve found myself a new therapist that I’m liking a lot and not only do you pretty much get a lifetime pass for less than the cost of a single session, I can bring myself and my problems to it whenever I feel like it for as long as my heart desires and my hoop makes me feel so much better in seconds flat. Well, most of the time.

Let me set the scene. It was a bad day in every sense of the word. I woke up early with out much sleep, spilled coffee down my shirt at work and had the most irrational customers to deal with. I couldn’t wait for the day to be over and when I came home my best friend and I ran head-first into a communication wall that left me even more frustrated and confused. That was when I realized I had a lot less money than I had initially thought I had too. Was that check going to bounce?

Throughout the day I had been looking forward to one thing and one thing only, hooping. So, when the time came I grabbed that beautiful circle, some water, my music and I ventured forth to spin away the cares of the day. And that’s when things got even more interesting. I started hooping, but I felt stuck. I felt as though I couldn’t remember anything other than moves I’d been doing for years. My body awareness seemed suddenly at an all-time low. I got dizzy, sweaty and annoyed all too quickly, and I, quite frankly, really didn’t appreciate my care free personal time becoming a chore.

To put it bluntly, at this point I really just wanted to walk away. And earlier in my hooping career when I spun into an emotional obstacle or block of some kind, that’s exactly what I did. We can hold so much past emotional energy in our body and when we hoop sometimes things spin their way to the surface. Within the past year as my hoop practice has become more necessary, more defined, and more flexible I’ve also noticed another interesting phenomenon starting to take place in my circle. My hoop always knows when I am being dishonest, whether it be with it, with my practice or even with myself. My hoop doesn’t let that dishonesty fly either, no sirree! It won’t let me leave my practice until I have come clean about whatever it is. Alright, while my hoop (unfortunately) cannot verbally communicate these concerns, it does have this strange, silent and overwhelming ability to pull anything and everything out of me. The centripetal force inside the spin does wonders in this regard as well.

Back to the scene in question, the moment finally came that the hoop and I had both been waiting for. A pot of water in my gut finally came to a boil spewing everywhere. I fell. I cried. I felt sick to be honest, and I felt as though a truth I had been avoiding in my life had smacked me right in the face, right in the middle of my hoop. So we sat together, my hoop and I, and (in my head and to myself) we talked it out. When it was over I thanked my hoop for being such a great listener, and I thanked myself for being open to healing, honesty and growth. From there, and it took longer than 50 minutes and nobody seemed to mind, we reconstructed from the ground up and I ventured forth into the world grateful to be alive and to face the next great lesson.

There are a multitude of gifts the hoop can give us: the gifts of honesty, connection, self-love. Without these things we wouldn’t be able and open to spin through these “break-downs” and we wouldn’t hold space for the new “build-ups” that follow. Through this physical act of self-expression that we call hooping, we sometimes transcend the boundary between mind and body, and we can commit to fully expressing our hearts through our tangible being. It’s a powerful thing. Is it any wonder there are those in our community who make mention of the hoop helping with and curing their battle with depression and more?

What’s the most rewarding part of it all? It’s just a plastic toy, right? I still have my money in my wallet. We aren’t on a time clock. I don’t have to leave my home. Through this vessel, this magical circle, I have learned to council and heal myself all at once. I’ve learned the importance of being true to myself. I have learned to be kind to my heart and to allow as much time as needed for great realizations. And, truth be told, there’s something cool about doing this on my own. Yes, I can thank my hoop, but I chose to pick it up. I’m choosing to commit, to learn, and to be present. So let’s pat ourselves on the back for choosing such an awesome learning tool that is not only so much fun, it’s oh so very good for every part of our being: mind, body and soul.


Megan Smith Megan Smith, aka Sati Flow, is a poet, artist, yogini and hooper based in Knoxville, Tennessee, USA. She has been hooping since 2011 and writing for as long as she can remember. Follow her hoop teachings, performances, writing and more on her website, satiflow.com!

Hooping it Up in Surf City New Jersey

Hooper Chrissy Cochran made the news in Surf City, New Jersey, when she was spotted strutting her hoop stuff at the Long Beach Island Thank-You Fest. And this five-year hooper had lots to say about the benefits of hooping. Like so many of us, she told the SandPaper that once she started hooping, she just couldn’t stop. “When you’re hooping, you can start to feel the music, and the hoop flows and becomes a stress relief. Knowing that I have a hula hoop, I can let everything else go and be expressive in my art,” she explained. For Cochran, hooping is a whole-body experience that opens up a mode of expression you just don’t encounter at the gym. “You find your flow and you find your groove and the whole circle of life – your mind, body and spirit getting intertwined together – you can feel it. You’re expressing your core, your soul movement, and you’re expressing yourself in a way that you usually don’t. You don’t have to use words. You use your body to figure out where to go next, and then it comes naturally.”

Chrissy picked up fire hooping too at Warren Wilson College in Asheville, North Carolina, but when she isn’t hooping, you’ll find her at the Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts and Sciences where she is instructs nature studies for children ages 10 to 12 about wildlife, their habitats and leading science experiments. Chrissy teaches a free weekly hoop jam/class on Tuesdays as well at 6:30 pm at the local Firefly Gallery. Though hooping is “just a hobby” for her right now, Chrissy is keenly interested in starting a hoop troupe in Surf City too. So if you’re nearby, be sure to drop by and say hello!

What a Difference a Year of Hooping Makes

Clair Ching by Clair Ching

One year and 30 pounds ago, I picked up my first hoop from Hoopaholic Cebu. Thanks to watching a hoop performance and reading an article about how hooping could be good exercise, I became a hooper. I weighed almost 200 pounds then and I only started hooping after I had lost 10 pounds. Going from 196 lbs to 186 lbs took 3 months. Then, with hooping regularly and being more conscious of my food intake the weight disappeared. I now weigh around 156.

The first week it was a struggle for me to keep the hoop up. Thankfully I was able to attend Tempest’s hooping workshop early on. It was there that I learned some really basic passes and turns and she gave me tips on how to keep my hoop from falling. That workshop encouraged me to keep going. A month later I began learning more about the hooping community here in the Philippines. I first met a bunch of them at the Fete dela Musique festival. I was a total newbie who was clueless and yet they welcomed me despite my knowing so little.

Throughout the year so many things happened:

1. I learned tricks that helped me have regular physical activity. Hooping on a regular basis for around 30 minutes or so was great cardio. I have no patience for running or jogging or any kind of exercise that would seem so boring.

2. I gained new friends. I met them first either at a spin jam or on Facebook. Either way, I am really happy to have them in my life and they share the same kind of passion for hooping that I have. These are people I get to learn tricks with and at the same time, I am able to learn how to deal with more types of people because I get exposed to different kinds of personalities. Maybe I could say that my circles are a bit more diverse now.

3. I found a way to express creativity. Whether it’s through combining moves or teaching hoop tricks, it involves some kind of creative work. It’s not easy to explain certain moves to other people because everyone has a different take on doing things.

4. I lost weight. This is partially because of hooping and partially because of the change in diet. I think that diet and physical activity need to go hand in hand for it to be more effective.

At the same time I had to wrestle with some bad thoughts and feelings. Hooping can be overwhelming, especially to someone like me. Some of the things I had to deal with and what I did are:

1. I felt bad about not getting the moves right away. When almost everyone around you is learning a new move and you still haven’t gone beyond the basic drills which are prerequisites to the move, you feel frustrated. There were times that I was tempted to quit hooping in the earlier stage, but I just stopped myself because I wanted to give hooping a fair chance before I decide to give it up.

2. I felt super self-conscious every time there was a spin jam. Most of the people who attend such events are young people who aren’t as big as I am. I felt like a big fat clumsy old person among them. Well, losing weight has helped me become less self conscious, but at the same time I’ve realized that some of the hoopers that I like a lot are older than I am and they are hooping their hearts’ out. Why should I feel upset, right? Hooping is for anyone, regardless of age, gender or size.

3. Being a lone hooper is tough. It’s sometimes necessary to be alone when practicing but I have to admit that there are days when focus and concentration aren’t enough and you really have to see other people hoop to understand how a move works. And of course, there are times when it’s so much more fun learning together. I practice alone when I need to focus on some things, but when I am with other hoopers they teach me and I can also learn by teaching them, because I break down the move differently for a person who’s asking me about it.

Today, when life and hooping throw stuff my way that’s not really encouraging, I get strength from my dear boyfriend and my hoop friends. Sometimes personal feelings do affect my practice. And sometimes, my practice affects other things in my life. My partner helps me through these things and so do my friends. I am so thankful for them! Performing for an audience is one of the things I am learning to handle right now and they go and watch me and tell me what my points of improvement are. That way I learn from them. In general, the local hoopers here in the Philippines have been helpful to me as I go on my hoop journey. They inspire me as I watch them spin, evolve and just have fun while hooping.


Clair Ching Clair Ching blogs regularly at Being a Crafty Cat. She’s an analyst at CodeFlux and her other geekery includes participating as a volunteer in events by the local Google Developer Group chapter and occasionally, Startup Weekend Manila. Her creative pursuits include hooping, crochet and knitting. You can follow her on Twitter. She lives in the Philippines.