By FARRAH WEINSTEIN
Posted: 5:00 AM, May 24, 2007
The latest craze to hit the streets of Manhattan is hooping. Drop the Hula. Traditional Hula-Hooping – where the hoop is spun around the waist using circular movements of the pelvis – has risen to a new level of dance movement and exercise.
Perhaps you’ve spotted some hoopers emerging from the subway, with a heavy, psychedelic-colored hoop in hand, a little bit bigger than the original toy-store brand. Or you’ve stumbled on a hooping group in Washington Square Park or St. Marks Place, and tried it out yourself.
“I lost 25 pounds in my first month of hooping,” says Natasha Kouri, a 20-year-old NYU student who makes her own hoops out of PVC piping and sells them for $30 in Union Square (or wherever you can find her).
“I don’t feel the pressure to be super-thin or to have an athletic body like a runner. But hooping promotes healthy body habits and I am proud of my body now.”
There are hooping parties, hooping classes, hooping fashion and international hooping community boards online. And once you start hooping, you may get hooked.
“People are tired of working out and being bored. They want something that’s going to be entertaining and fun,” says Stefan Pildes, 31, president of GrooveHoops, an organization that teaches two hooping classes in the city. “An hour passes, and people are sweating and burning calories.”
“The Hoopdance requires the individual to focus his mind on specific parts of the body in order to keep the hoop going, using the abdominals, fingers, shoulders and, most importantly, the core,” says Malcom Stuart, a professional hooper. You can check him out at superalot.com. “It’s a similar workout to Pilates or yoga, but more intense.”
The more tricks you know, the more fun it is.
“The tricks are hard at first to learn,” says Ali Schmitz, 26, a speech-language pathologist with red hair and funky clothes who lives in the East Village and has been hooping for eight months. “It’s a lot of practice. But once you get it, something clicks and then all of a sudden it makes sense. You understand the fulcrum, the rotation and it becomes second nature. You’re always exploring.”
Currently, there are about 200 teacher and student hoopers in Manhattan, twice as many as last year. And gyms are catching on. Reebok Sports Club is opening a new Mind Body Studios wellness spa on June 1 with a hoop yoga class. Learn enough moves and you could celebrate on July 7, World Hooping Day.
“After hoop class, all my students say they’re high,” says GrooveHoops’ Pildes, who teaches more than 40 students at a time. “It’s catching on like wildfire.”
Learn hooping with the instructors of GrooveHoops, Monday nights at 8, at the 14th Street Y, 344 E. 14th St.; (212) 780-0800, and Wednesday nights at 9:30 at CenterPoint Yoga, 324 Lafayette St., No. 3A; (212) 925-4789.