Hula Hooping: Not your Grandma’s Gym Routine

7 Nov

By Kylie Bovenzi

For this week’s section, I am going to veer slightly to the left and bring you into the wonderful world of dance, specifically the rising trend of Hula Hoopers. If you ventured outside over the summer to one of the parks Cheyenne or Laramie has to offer, you may have seen the occurrence of hula hoopers more and more. Certainly if you have traveled to any music festival you saw not only spectators engaged in dancing with a hoop, but also performers, onstage alongside various musical acts, shaking what their mama gave them with some flashy hoops along for the ride. Although hooping is not a new thing, it’s resurgence among live music lovers has catapulted this exercise into a whole new genre of performance art; and it doesn’t take years to gain knowledge of the hoops powers.  In fact, at the end of these five steps, you guys will have all the essentials needed to tape up your own hoop and start experimenting with some moves!

Hula How To: Five Steps to Boogy

Brooke Gritten with her $400 LED Hoop. I could not make this stuff up.

Brooke Gritten with her $400 LED Hoop. I could not make this stuff up.

  1. Every great Hooper (and believe me, there is one residing in you) must first procure their greatest asset: the hoop. Although your first thought may be to run to Walmart, those hoops are not heavy enough to keep a solid momentum up. You would be shaking your hips to no avail, while simultaneously cursing me for suggesting a fun “easy” past time. The best route is to make your own, which is extremely simple. Size the hoop to your liking, insert a connector piece, tape that baby up and BOOM. You are ready to start moving your hips. For a step by step guide, click here. If arts and crafts aren’t your thing, buy some cheap practice hoops here.
  2. Now that your hoop is ready to be hooped, there is one other must: music. If you are outside, I recommend putting in earphones. Pick something you enjoy, and something you know you can’t help moving around to. Hooping technique is important, but the hooper themselves is responsible for the dance and the feelings portrayed. It’s not about being perfect, but about moving around to your music and forgetting about other stresses for ten minutes at a time. This isn’t exercise, it’s YOU time.
  3. With your hoop in hand and music blasting, it’s time to start with some basics. Although it seems like common sense, practicing keeping it up around your hips is a must. This seems simple, and a bit redundant, but basic waist hooping must be perfected before you can even DREAM of some fancy isolations or tosses. The best stance to take initially is with your feet shoulder width apart. Isolate your waist and abs, concentrating on using those two parts of your body to guide the hoop in a circular motion. Hooping is more comfortable on one side rather than the other, much like being left or right handed. Practice both sides until you can keep the hoop up for longer spurts of time. Don’t feel discouraged if it doesn’t happen right away; this is the most basic and most frustrating part of hooping. Once you get comfortable though, tricks are easier and easier to learn.
  4.  While waist hooping, begin to alternate sliding one hand in and out of the gap the hoop makes as it is circling your waist. This is called ‘finding your gaps’. Being able to slip your hands all over the place without disrupting the flow of the hoop is a must for tricks; many tricks, like throwing the hoop over your head, entail seamlessly grabbing the hoop and guiding it up and around your body.  It is important to know the timing of when you can reach your hand(s) down or behind you without disrupting the hoop. Practice putting your hands in front of you and behind you.
  1. Practice practice practice! Hooping does not take much skill initially, and knowledge is gained extremely quickly. You will get out of it what you put into it, and even ten minutes a day will enable you to be better. Don’t move on to another trick until you have one down. For a list of tricks that are fun to try, click here.
Another one of my superior friends, Hanna Schulz, demonstrating hooping on the foot while performing at a show in Fort Collins... let's just say I would not look like this!

Another one of my superior friends, Hanna Schulz, demonstrating hooping on the foot while performing at a show in Fort Collins… let’s just say I would not look like this!

The most important thing to remember is to have fun. Hooping is the type of thing that need not be taken seriously. This is not your ballet class from k-12. Rather, it is a way to get up and moving in a fun, danceable way. It provides a way to express oneself that is different from other forms of dance, and boy will you look fantastic spinning an LED hoop like this one at next summer’s family BBQ or that concert you’ve been waiting all year for.  Enjoy yourself, lose yourself in the music and the atmosphere, and see what it does for your state of mind.

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