Friday, October 7, 2022

Modern Hula Hooping Trend Growing in Oxford

Christina Coleman of Oxford was at a music festival when she was first exposed to hooping culture.
“Somebody had a stack of hoops and talked me into trying it,” Coleman said. “You don’t even think of it—when you’re going about your day-to-day life it just never occurs to you that this is something you could do and enjoy as a fitness activity.”

Christina Coleman can be found hooping on the Square at the Oxford Maker's Market on the first Saturday of each month.
Coleman can be found hooping on the Square at the Oxford Maker’s Market on the first Saturday of each month.

Hula hooping is rumored to date back to the ancient Greeks and plastic hoops have been manufactured in America since the 1950’s. Most are familiar with hula hooping as a children’s game, but few are aware of the modern movement of hooping as an exercise and an art form.
Coleman, a graduate student at Ole Miss, has been selling homemade hoops at the Oxford Maker’s Market on the Square for the past year and a half. The quirky twenty-something’s face lights up when she thinks about sharing her passion with the community.
“It’s a lot of fun to get someone who says ‘oh I can’t do that,’ to pick it up and all of the sudden they figure out that they can,” Coleman said. “I just get a kick out of that.”
Ole Miss sophomore Chris Butts has been partially responsible for increasing the hooping presence on campus. For the past two years, he brought his stack of hoops to RebelThon, the university’s 12-hour marathon dance party and fundraiser.
“Sometimes I go into a class and someone says, ‘you’re that guy who hoops!’ and I don’t know how I feel about that,” Butts said of his on-campus reputation. Still, Butts is accepting of his role in helping hooping grow, always answering the questions of gawking bystanders.
“If someone does say something while I’m hooping, I always ask them if they want to try it,” Butts said. “They either say something nice or look at me like I’m insane.”
The idea of the modern hooping trend is that hoops can be useful for fitness as well as for expressive dance. According to Coleman, hooping is one of the most intuitive exercises possible.
“You can gauge your ability based on how well you can tell the hoop what to do and it does it,” Coleman said. “You don’t need someone else to tell you that you’ve got it now, because the hoop tells you.”
Hoops can be used to improve balance, as well as tone almost any part of the body.
“If you want to tone your arms, you hoop on your arms; it’s as simple as that,” Coleman said.
Butts participated in a certification program with well-known hooping organization Hoopnotica. Through the multiple-day program, he learned hooping from the very basics so that he could teach others how to apply the sport in multiple ways.
Sophomore Chris Butts enjoys dancing with his hoop.
Ole Miss sophomore Chris Butts enjoys dancing with his hoop. Photo by Yuki Pan.

“There are a good many toning opportunities, whether it’s for your arms or your waist,” Butts said. “Pairing it with yoga would make it more meditative, and there’s also just dancing.”
For Coleman, the process of learning to hoop is the most rewarding part of the activity.
“I started out with a large, heavy hoop, and to begin with, all I could do was keep it around my waist,” she said. Now, Coleman has much higher aims for her skills. She practices her tricks for an hour a day whenever the weather is nice.
“For a while it was jump-throughs, and now I’ve got a lot of those down. Before that it was lifts, so it was all about how I can get it on and off my body,” Coleman said. “Right now, I’m working on foot hooping, so to be able to lie on my back and hoop with my foot.”
For the young entrepreneur, hooping is a constant reminder of the value of working at something consistently.
“When you first start, you’re going to be miserable at it, but if you’re regularly trying and working at it then eventually you’ll be good,” Coleman said. “I can take this lesson back to anything else I do in my life and say, ‘okay I know this is how the world works—I just have to try.’”
Generally, larger and heavier hoops are the best option for beginner hoopers, but for those interested in picking up hooping, Coleman recommends trying out a variety of hoops before picking one.
Coleman makes her own hoops so that she always has the size she needs.
Coleman makes her own hoops so that she always has the size she needs.

“It isn’t your weight or your size or your height or anything like that; you just have to find a hoop that you want to play with,” Coleman said. “Some people need a larger, heavier hoop to start with; others want lighter ones to learn tricks with. For me, I need a whole stack.”
Coleman and Butts agree that hooping needs a community to be the most enjoyable.
“The reason I enjoyed hooping in the first place was because I knew people who were better than me,” Butts said.
“I always like meeting someone who has a different set of hula hooping skills in person; you get this exchange of information and ideas and skill sets and it’s inspiring,” Coleman said.
What was once a novelty of music festivals is now gaining popularity in Oxford, and these active hoopers expect the movement to continue.
“Any place where there is a large grassy area and music, hoopers will just kind of magically show up,” Coleman said. “It just needs someone who is local and dedicated to regularly showing up in the same place with hoops.”
“In general, it’s definitely a growing trend because it’s becoming more than just something you see at music festivals,” Butts said. “I mean everybody knows what a hula hoop is—it’s a very universal object.”
The Oxford Maker’s Market will return to the Square on Saturday, March 1st from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

-Grace Sullivan is a staff writer and amateur hooper
gmsulli1@go.olemiss.edu
 

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