Hooping for health and happiness
Fri, Sep 18, 2009 (3:20 p.m.)
Photo: April Corbin
It starts with a quick turn of a hip.
The ring follows the natural arc of her body, first meeting at the hipbone then looping back around and hitting the small of her back. The momentum of that first push might be enough to keep the hoop going, but she doesn’t stay still long enough to find out. Her hips whirl and her shoulders are shimmying. A flip of the hair and a push of her chest upward, and, like magic, the ring is slowly working its way up her body. It flies around her shoulders before she slows the pace again and lets the ring settle against her hips once again. The ring seems to teeter there, threatening to fall, controlled only by the swivels and thrusts of her hips.
One thing is clear: This isn’t child’s play.
In the 1950s Wham-O introduced the hula hoop to millions of U.S. children. While its heyday still remains the golden days of colorless televisions and poodle skirts, the toy has remained a staple for many children. For most, it stays in childhood.
Original Spin says she was turned onto hooping by friends from Burning Man.
Julie Schoolastra and Original Spin aren’t most people, though.
They’re hoopers, adults who have taken the beloved hula hoop and adapted it into a modern form of dance, exercise and entertainment. Schoolastra began hooping two years ago after seeing it at an art festival. Turned on by the modernization of an esoteric activity, Schoolastra found Hoopnotica.com and ordered instructional videos.
“I was a closet hooper,” she says. “Just me in my backyard with my hoop and my dog. From there, it took a life of its own.”
Fifty lost pounds later, and with improved posture and confidence, Schoolastra decided to become certified as a Hoopnotica instructor. Now, she’s teaching others who want to get inside the hoop. On Tuesday, Sept. 22, she’ll teach a three-week beginning hoopdance class. Held at the West Las Vegas Arts Center, it promises 90 minutes of practicing hooping fundamentals, followed by a mini hoop jam.
It also promises to be a lot of fun. “How can you not be happy? It’s a child’s toy,” Schoolastra ponders.
Fremont Middle School Principal Antonio Rael watches Original Spin and students hoop during a World Hoop Day event.
According to Original Spin, who asked to be called by her hooping name, the biggest mistake adults make after deciding to revisit the childhood pastime is selecting the wrong size hoop. For adults, a 40-inch ring is recommended. That’s 10 inches wider in diameter than a standard children’s hula hoop. Original Spin, who began hooping four years ago after friends from Burning Man introduced her to the hobby, sells hoops through her local company, Luv 2 Hoop.
And these aren’t the cheap plastic hulas from the playground. Modern day hoops are often wrapped with tape, which helps create friction between the hooper’s body and the hoop and makes it easier to spin. Colors give personality, and, sometimes, special meaning to the hoops and their owners.
“It can be very personal,” explains Original Spin, who decorated one of her rings with colors representing all the races in the world. “It can be anything you want.”
She says in the four years since she’s gotten involved with the hooping community, interest in the activity has grown tremendously, and she expects popularity to keep spinning successfully now that Schoolastra is offering courses.
On World Hoop Day, 09/09/09, more than 200 hoops were donated to middle school students.
Still, while teens and adults may be buying into the hoopla over hooping, nobody has forgotten about the children. Each year, World Hoop Day promotes hip circling pastime by raising donations to buy hoops for underprivileged children around the world. Last year’s Vegas event, held on 08/08/08, and this year’s 09/09/09 event, took place at Fremont Middle School.
Original Spin organized this year’s event and partnered with the Embracing Project, a non-profit organization focusing on inner city youth and their families. Approximately 200 students filled the middle school’s gymnasium with laughter, the swish of hoops flying around bodies and the inevitably clatter of plastic on the floor. It was a sight Principal Antonio Rael loved.
“I’m a fan of any event that brings kids here outside of class time,” he says. “They’re getting to showcase talents they don’t utilize in school, and they’re getting exercise.”
As the children grabbed their backpacks to leave after two hours of hip shaking, many walked to the set-up table to return the hoops and thank the volunteers working the event. When they learned the hoops were theirs to keep, most were ecstatic.
Why shouldn’t they be?
“It’s good for the mind, body and soul,” Original Spin says.
Knowing “Original Spin” personally, I can only congratulate her on a job well-done. Last years World Hoop Day was such a success that children like mine got to experience for the first time. My children had never seen a hula hoop and thanks to Original Spin, my children now enjoy hula hooping which everyday. Congratulations Original Spin.