Hula hooping for fun, entertainment, and exercise
To this day, twenty-six-year-old Misty “Hoopstress” Smith is still amazed by how much a single invitation changed her life.
“About four years ago, a friend invited me to attend a hula hooping workshop she was hosting,” recalls Misty. “I had no idea what she meant by that. I thought [hooping] was [done] just around your waist,” she says.
Misty attended the workshop as a supportive friend and left the class feeling invigorated by what she’d learned. That night, she hooped for an additional six hours. She’s been hooping every day since then.
“It’s not just hula hooping,” explains Misty, a Georgetown resident since the age of two. “It’s more a meditative alignment of your body and your soul. It’s called a flow art.”
With any type of flow art, participants keep the momentum going through muscle memory, flowing through the moves and letting their bodies react rather than consciously thinking about individual movements.
“It’s wonderful!” Misty says, beaming. “It’s like my cup of coffee; it’s like my therapist. I know it sounds crazy, but once you get into the flow of it and you feel the energy, you’ll see what I mean.”
Before that fateful hooping seminar, Misty admits, she lived life a bit aimlessly. “I didn’t know what my passions were,” she says. “Hooping totally changed everything.” Through hoop dance, Misty has found her purpose. She’s making a living and a lifestyle off of hooping, offering at least one free Community Hoop Jam per month through her hooping group, Circle of Play; custom-making hoops; and teaching private and group hooping classes.
“I love performing,” says Misty, who dances with regular, LED, and fire hoops, “but my heart is in teaching.”
Misty gladly shared some of her favorite hooping tips with the Georgetown View:
Pick the right hoop. There are many sizes, weights, and types of hoops, Misty says. Before you commit to one, try out several to determine which works best for you. Many hoops you’ll find in stores are kid-sized and too lightweight to provide a real workout. For maximum effect, use an athletic hoop. Misty can design an athletic dance hoop fitted for you specifically, or you can find athletic hoops on ETSY or at Hoopnotica.com.
Wear appropriate clothing. Misty recommends that beginning hoopers wear yoga clothes that won’t catch or impede their movement or the movement of the hoops. Typically, cotton clothing is best.
Don’t fear bruises. If you’re a beginner, be prepared for bruises, Misty says. “Your body isn’t used to the sustained momentum on your skin. But you don’t bruise forever.”
Maintain an “I can” attitude. “Learning to hoop dance challenges hoopers to be patient with their bodies until their muscle memory kicks in,” Misty explains. She urges hoopers to stay patient and positive and to learn to laugh at themselves.
Stay hydrated. Vigorously hooping around the arms, waist, or legs burns calories—lots of them—and is believed to release toxins. Given the physical demands of hooping, you’ll want to keep hydrated.
There’s always more to learn. “The moment you think you’ve plateaued, you watch yourself on video or in the mirror and you’ll see parts of your routine that you can improve. And then you get into the performance aspects of hooping.” You can always try adding another hoop, learning a new trick, or taking up LED or fire hooping.
“One of the best things about hoop dance is that whether you’re a kid, a young adult, a middle-aged mom, dad, adult, or grandparent—everyone can hoop together and laugh and play,” Misty says.
For more information on Circle of Play events, along with hooping tips and tricks, visit the Circle of Play on Facebook..