I took up hula hooping in the middle of January 2016. As I’ve just passed my 1 year “hoopiversary”, I decided to detail my journey from ‘fairly useless individual in a sports bra with a massive hoop’ to ‘actually quite competent’. I initially didn’t mean to write it in this style; it just sort of happened.
Once upon a time, a soon-to-be university dropout in a tiny room in Reading bought herself a purple, gold and black hula hoop.
She’d got to try out a friend’s hoop a few months before. Inspired by the fact she could keep it on her waist, thought she’d try and pursue it herself, when she finally left university for good (unlike her halls, her parents had a nice-sized garden).
She soon realised that learning to hula hoop in the middle of January probably wasn’t going to be the most pleasant experience. It was very cold – very cold- especially since she needed the exposed skin to keep the hoop spinning.
The bruises… they were something else.
She learned using online tutorials, and, whenever she could, and run outside to try it, and try it, and try it until she got it vaguely right. Admittedly, she wasn’t exactly the most elegant, but she was determined that she would be, one day.
Her breakthrough came to her in the form of her friend, who recommended her a class which was starting in the nearby village. She signed up straight away, and soon she was just-about-spinning with a few other ambitious hoopers. For the life of her, she couldn’t neck hoop – something which became a bit demoralising when she realised everyone else could do it. In all fairness, though, she was one of the first to figure out lifting off the waist (although online classes had helped a bit with that one..).
And, she practiced. She practiced a lot – in the park, whenever she could, she’d drag her boyfriend and her hoop to somewhere fairly hidden, so passers-by wouldn’t see her mess something up, mainly. In mid-February, her boyfriend bought her a beautiful, iridescent polypro hoop – lighter, and faster, and it made all the things she needed to do with her arms a lot easier. She wasn’t getting tired in the classes, anymore, and really felt she was progressing. Going from a beginner hoop to a polypro definitely took a bit of getting used to!
Not long after, she bought her second hoop, from her hoop teacher – a neon pink, naked polypro this time, taped around the middle, making it much easier to spin around the waist. She still hadn’t quite grasped neck hooping, though…
When she got her job, she had much, much less time for hooping. She started to lag a bit in her lessons, having to miss several due to back pains from standing all day, or just staying late to get things done. Work was worth it, but she began to notice a lot of the other members of the class surpass her in skill – even the people who started the course weeks after she did.
Still, she loved to hoop, and she didn’t give it up. She took her pink polypros to Wychwood Festival in Cheltenham, and danced the weekend away with her friend – they finally had the chance to jam together, if just for a couple of days.
After watching the fire dancers at the Avebury Summer Solstice in awe, she decided to keep some of her paycheque back, and eventually managed to save enough to order a LED hoop from the USA, as summer was just around the corner. It would be the perfect weather for hooping at night, especially at future festivals.
(It turned out not to arrive until a week after Boomtown, though.)
Just as she’d finally, sort of, managed to grasp neck hooping, she came across her next, biggest hurdle: chest hooping. Notoriously difficult, she was no stranger to its challenge. No amount of pumping and awkward wriggling could get it working. It became an impossible goal, in a way.
Shoulder hooping was somewhat more achievable, with her first successful attempt being made at Secret Garden Party. The combination of intensive heat and an open-minded, loving, festival atmosphere, meant that cropped tops and swimwear – perfect hooping attire – were more than acceptable.
Coincidentally, this was also the same festival in which she hooped naked a couple of times… which led to her first, real success with hooping around the leg, coincidentally.
With chest hooping still a distant dream, and shoulder hooping not much closer (but her vortex getting incredible), she was given the opportunity to try fire hooping. Nerve-wracking, yes, but fun, definitely. The smell and the sound blew her away, and she knew she wanted to take it up, someday. Someday, in a few years, probably.
It was difficult to learn more techniques while travelling around festivals, but the one thing she definitely got to work on was her flow. There was music everywhere.
By the time she had her last hoop lesson, before she moved to her new home in Brighton in September, she’d still not mastered chest hooping or escalators. But, a beautiful, fully-taped polypro and some good luck followed, and she found a hoop class near to her new home, by Live Love Hoop.
The class consisted of six, hour-long blocks, and focused on upper-body hooping. After just the first session, she knew she’d made significant progress, and she couldn’t have been happier. Her posture was corrected, and neck hooping came naturally. Shortly after, followed proper shoulder hooping, neck hooping with an arm lifted, almost a chest roll and, finally, finally, proper chest hooping. Though admittedly completing more than five rotations proved a bit too ambitious, it was a breakthrough, and a huge personal achievement, to boot.
Something about mastering the one thing she felt was holding her back spurred her on to practice more and more. She signed up for another class, this time on lower body hooping, and, while she was back in her hometown, made sure to practice every day, weather permitting. Five rotations became seven, then ten, and then, sustained.
Upon starting her leg hooping course, she was confident, and soon, by the end, more or less mastered a number of tricks on the legs. Eventually, she could work the hoop up and down her body, from her legs, to her chest, to her neck. She could keep up a flow, and even hoop on her foot without it flying off and hitting someone in the face. She definitely hit herself a couple of times, though…
As more and more assignments are handed in, she knows that she may not have as much time for hooping. However, as the days get warmer and longer, she promises herself that she will make the time for it. She has promised herself that she’ll perfect rolls and basic floor work before the year is done.
The progress has been huge, and she hopes she just keeps getting better.