by Jan Camp, author of Into the Circle: Hula Hooping in California and Beyond
Hoopdance, or simply hooping, embodies the spirit of serious fun by contributing to individual and universal wellness through play. It is an affordable, low impact aerobic exercise that is available to everyone. At farmers’ markets across the country, hoopers give demonstrations and sell hoops. The aim, for both the farmers and the hoopers, is the same: get healthy by local means.
Constantly touched by the hoop as we twirl, our thoughts and feelings are focused in the body, creating a spirited blend of ecstatic dance, showmanship, and meditation. The tradition goes back centuries in forms of religious ritual and shamanic healing, repetitive rhythm connecting the dancer to altered states of consciousness.
Many men and women are role models for children, using hooping to connect youth with a sense of self esteem, and to educate children about healthy food and movement. Kaye Anderson, a clinical social worker, uses hoops with her young clients. “Hooping gives both an adrenaline surge and a release. It calms over-stimulation and gives a tangible sense of boundary. That allows some children to open up and talk while they are hooping.”
Playing with hoops made from natural materials goes back to antiquity. It became a fad in the 1950s that faded out until the summer of 1997, when large irrigation-tubing hoops were thrown from stages at outdoor music concerts. That got audiences moving and started a hooping revolution that is here to stay. Hooping community fosters a sense of inclusion internationally and retreats for hoopdancing are now held all over the world. Read more about hoopdancing here.