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Hooping saved me from injury and the 9-5 grind : My hoop story

Ariel (Regal Mermaid) discovered hooping in 2014 at a festival with friends but hooping became her real sweet spot after serious foot injury.

Read Ariel’s hoop story.

How has hooping helped/healed/changed you?

Hooping has helped me find my inner balance. It’s given me a reason to keep dancing which ultimately keeps me happy. It’s given me the confidence to really dance like no one is watching because inside the hoop anything looks good! Due to my broken-arthritic-toes it’s helped me to keep moving when I otherwise could have stopped.

What have been the most helpful benefits of hooping for you?

Keeping my brain active. You finish HS or Uni, and go into the 9-5 grind and can easily set yourself up for monotonous routines. I’m constantly learning when I’m hooping and my brain is happier for it.

What inspired you to pick up a hoop?

I have a large group of friends that I go to festivals with in the UK. I’m from the States, so this group has become my family since moving here in 2009.

There are a few hoopers in the group and during a festival (that we created) in July 2014 I watched them hoop for hours on end! I had never seen hoop dance before and was super amazed by their skills.

As a dancer myself, I just HAD to learn.

At the start of the festival weekend I couldn’t even keep the hoop up. But, with a LOT of determination and patience from my mates, by the 3rd day I was waist hooping!

I love remembering that this was my first experience with a hoop. However, I also like to recall that learning to hoop at a festival is why I hoop in what’s considered the ‘opposite’ direction – everything was a bit wonky when I learned! After the festival I didn’t really think about hooping seriously – until I went back to the States that Christmas for the first time since I had moved to the UK. When I was home I found my old ballroom dance shoes in a box of things that couldn’t fit when I moved. I was heartbroken looking at them. I had been dancing for 16 years before I moved to the UK, 35+ hours/week in the year just before the move.

Zoom to 5 years later and I’d gained 2 stone discovering English pints and pies, recently broken up with my boyfriend of 4.5 years and rarely had any physical activity in my routine. I was looking for happy somewhere and was really lost on where to find it.

When I returned from holiday in Jan 2015, I stamped my twinkle toes down and made a promise to myself to bring dance back into my life. I signed up to a ballroom class and a hoop class and began dancing immediately. It was great to ballroom dance again but there were two issues: 1. We were constantly relying on a partner in order to dance and there were even fewer leads in my course here than at home. And 2. In the 5 years that I had moved to the UK, I managed to break my big toe (the other one broke 2 years later), and it turned into arthritis with a nice dose of bunions. Ballroom dance was super painful and super unfulfilling as I wasn’t doing much dancing. Hooping on the other hand, didn’t need a partner and I could move my feet as much or as little as I wanted. This was the sweet spot!

Do you go to hoop classes or do you mostly learn from online tutorials and courses?

I did hoop classes for about 6 months but then found that I learn a lot more when I’m free to move about on my own.

Where do you get most of your hoop inspiration?

YouTube, Instagram, Self Practice, Hoop Jams

What are your hoop goals? What are you hoping to achieve?

Short term is to unlock my flow more. I’m either stuck doing a handful of moves or flowing between tricks looks very deliberate. I’d like to hoop for 30 minutes straight without feeling like I’m doing the same thing for 80% of the time.


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