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.
When you have two fitness passions, it only seems natural to want to combine them. Well Leslie Timms of LeslieTimms.ca does just that, merging her love for rock climbing and hooping on an extreme hoop circuit in Joshua Tree National Park. If the first minute of climbing for “The Space Pod Hobbit Hoop” makes your heart beat a little faster, just wait until Leslie ascends “The Aguille de Hoop eh” – that’s when things really get interesting! Daredevil Leslie lives in Thornbury, Ontario, Canada, and she’s hooping to “Stars” by Nightmares on Wax, which you can download a copy of for your very own on iTunes,
Ileana Grgic of Hoop in Joy may be 22 weeks pregnant, but it hasn’t stopped her from taking time to spin up an absolutely adorable and happy hoop dance video. She is having fun playing with some tosses, and we had a fun time watching her too. Ileana lives in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, and the soundtrack here is called “Ghostwriter” RJD2, and you can find a copy of it for your very own over on iTunes.
Here’s the hooping video you didn’t even know you needed, until it was delivered. Janis Joplin sets the mood for Carley Rawes’ uninhibited moments with her hoop dance and her camera. She draws us into her jam with a mix of speedy tech, smooth transitions and playful joy. Carley resides in Guelph, Ontario, Canada, and she is jamming to Janis Joplin’s “As Good As You’ve Been to This World”, which you can add a copy of to your hoop jam playlist by downloading it over on iTunes.
What’s black and white and red all over? This sassy and spirited new hooping video from Isabella Hoops of Isabella Hoops Entertainment! With her passion for entertaining she brings her own style of dance and rhythm to circus style hula hooping and spins up the extraordinary. Isabella currently lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and the soundtrack here is called “Crash” by Adventure Club and you can find a copy of it for your very own collection over on iTunes.
Ileana Grgic of Hoop in Joy may be 18 weeks pregnant, but she isn’t letting that stop her from spinning up something adorable with this lively hoop dance. Filmed on the beach in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, she’s having a great time and we had a great time watching her. Ileana lives in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, and the soundtrack here is called “La Vida Es Un Carnaval” by Celia Cruz and you can find a copy of it for your very own over on iTunes.
So you’ve been back at school for a few months now, but something is missing. Sure, you’ve got your friends and you have your hoop, but even though there are an awful lot of clubs and societies on campus, what you really need is a hooping club, right? Well, some lucky students are actually at colleges and universities that already have established hooping or circus clubs. If there is nothing happening where you are, then you are going to have to take matters into your own hands. How? Make your own! I spoke with Mona Shpongledhoops, formerly of the University of Vermont, Valeska Griffiths of the University of Toronto, and Rose Kreditor of Boston University, all of whom successfully started up hooping clubs on campus from scratch. In fact, they gave me the lowdown on just how they did it, how it worked out for them and more.
Rachel: When and how did you get your hooping club started?
Mona: I started the UVM Hoop Dancing Club in the Fall of 2007 with some friends that I lived with. Our University had specific steps to submit a particular sport or recreational activity to be officially recognized by the school. So we filled out all the necessary paperwork and then had to present our proposal to the athletic activities board. We made a Power Point presentation explaining what “Hooping” is and how it would benefit the body and mind.
Valeska: My friend Shannon and I co-founded the University of Toronto Hoopdance and Flow Arts club (HAFA) in the summer of 2013. We’d already been spending most of our time practicing for the last couple of years (hooping for her, hooping and contact juggling for me), and thought it would be fun to get to know other students. We registered as a club through the University and attracted new members by hosting impromptu jams outside the main library on campus.
Rose: I set up The Boston University Hooping Project in 2012 on Boston University’s campus with the hope that it would entice BU students to learn and create a space and community for BU (and greater area) spinners – I had been hooping for 4 months! Though I went through the process of making The BU Hooping Project a recognized BU club alone, we now have a President, Vice president, secretary, and treasurer.