What do you get when you mix a hoop dance group, a corporate sponsor, and a lot of enthusiastic, but freezing cold Canadians? Record breaking magic, that’s what! Hundreds of hoopers recently took over Toronto’s Yonge Dundas Square to beat the world record for the largest hula hoop workout. According to Guinness World Records, an impressive record was set two years ago with 407 people, but Toronto area hoopers were not about to be intimidated.
I arrived at the event 15 minutes into the designated sign-in time, thinking I would have no trouble getting in. Instead, I found a nice long line up that stretched down the block. Registration was a bit of a hassle because of the waivers we had to sign, but there was a world record to break, and a free hoop for the effort, so I didn’t mind. Activia, the aforementioned corporate sponsor, decked the Square out in green, white and yellow, and they erected an incredibly large tent canopy as well. The organizers had an ingenious color coding system of squares on the pavement to help us stay properly spaced out and fully counted by our team leaders for the world record attempt. Once settled at my designated spot, it was time for the fun to begin!
Mandy Harvey, Sugar Hoops founder, and instructors Amy MacCutchan, Colleen Costello, Scarlet Deamon and Tomoko Couture, showed off their crazy hooping skills to get the crowd psyched up, as if we weren’t already. Mandy then led everyone in doing a warm up to get ready for our world record moment of glory. I was near the stage, but I kept turning around to see the rows upon rows of people behind me all following along. It was quite a rush to be part of something so big, and Scarlet told me afterward that it was incredible to see everyone moving in unison from the stage! What also amazed me was that Mandy, many of the instructors, and their friends and family, had made and taped all 500 of the hoops on hand for the day. I couldn’t even begin to imagine how much work was involved.
For our big moment, the announcer explained that she would sound an air horn and we would follow Mandy’s instructions for five minutes, at which point she would blow the horn again and the record would hopefully be set. Up to that point, the day had been quite lighthearted, but once that horn sounded, people really focused. Mandy took the crowd through some basic drills including waist hooping in both directions, stalls and isolations. When the horn sounded for the second time, I’m convinced the workers in the neighboring high-rises could have heard all of us cheering!
While it took a few days to determine whether or not we had indeed broken the world record, eventually the news came that we did not. Mandy shared that “only” around 380 hoopers participated. She noted, “I feel that we certainly did our part and pushed our limits and were more than successful especially considering how cold it was outside.” While the World Record attempt was a great rallying point, to me the real success is that hundreds of people got introduced to the joy of hooping. The camaraderie and enthusiasm, punctuated with many “aha moments” as people figured out how to hoop, could not be beat. I expect I’ll be seeing those green and yellow world record hoops in Toronto parks all summer long.
Contributor Liz Frederiksen was a rhythmic gymnastics performer with Ritmika in the ‘80s/‘90s and participated in the SkyDome (Roger’s Centre) opening ceremonies and Argos football halftime shows in Toronto. After two decades away from rhythmics, she discovered hoop dance and is having fun learning the on-body skills to go with her off-body tricks. She’s a social media consultant and lives in the GTA with her husband, cat and growing collection of hoops! She’s on Twitter and Pinterest.