Hula-hoop dancing becomes latest exercise trend
Published: Monday, March 11, 2013
Updated: Monday, March 11, 2013 21:03
After witnessing how students were fascinated by hula-hoopers on the Green, senior Molly Wessel says she was inspired to create the university’s Cardio Hoop Dance Club.
“One of our friends would always hula-hoop on the green, constantly doing these amazing tricks,” Wessel says. “Random people would just gravitate towards her and ask if they could try. Watching her made us want to do it too.”
Wessel says “hooping” is an exercise regimen that is quickly rising in popularity and the Cardio Hoop Dance Club’s expanding membership is a reflection of the growing trend.
Wessel, who is co-president of the year-old club, says the recreational hula-hooping group practices different tricks through various dances and popular electronic music.
She starts by going over basics and simple tricks to introduce beginners to the sport, she says. Then, once the group is comfortable and has learned more about hula-hooping, she says they share tricks to perform.
“People will learn off of each other really quickly,” she says. “Before you know it, everyone is following the same routine to a song.”
Along with the positive self-image and enjoyable experience hula-hooping offers hula-hooping generates many health benefits, Wessel says. The workout strengthens core muscles and tones the arms and legs, and for every 15 minutes of hooping, approximately 100 calories are burned, Wessel says. A series of complicated tricks can also lead to an intense ab work-out, according to Wessel.
Melissa Cox, communications coordinator of Alumni Relations, says she is an avid hula-hooper, practicing about two hours each day.
She was previously more interested in ballet until she tried her friend’s hula-hoop at the beach last June, she says. After being incapable of keeping the hoop up, she says she was motivated to work harder at learning to hoop, and since then, she says she has been teaching herself tricks.
Cox says the cost-effective nature of hula-hooping appealed to her. While she was considering getting back into dance, she says she wanted to avoid paying the high fees of a regular adult dance class.
“I’m glad I stuck with this instead,” Cox says. “I’ve learned everything from basic waist hooping, to hand, shoulder and leg hooping. I enjoy doing all kinds of throws and dance moves inside the hoops.”
With body rolls and neck hooping mastered, Cox says her next goal is to work with more than one hoop at a time. Depending on the weight of the hoops, the exercise can be an intense core workout, Cox says.
She says she finds typical modes of exercise such as running and biking to be monotonous and dull, while hooping gives her a different experience staying fit.
“I love it because I don’t realize that I’m working out,” she says. “Your heart rate gets high, and the music is what really drives you to it. It also builds arm and chest muscles depending on what type of hooping you do.”
Professor of behavioral health and nutrition Stephen Goodwin says hula-hooping can help muscle tone and cardiovascular fitness just like any simple act of exercising. Whenever people get their blood flowing, there are significant health benefits, Goodwin says.
Goodwin says hooping also has social and emotional components that differentiate it from other exercises.
“There’s a great deal of camaraderie that occurs, so the social health is improved because you’re constantly interacting with people while moving around,” Goodwin says. “It helps people in all sorts of aspects, whether it is physical, emotional or mental wellness.”
Hooping is commonly used as a stress management technique for people, Goodwin says. Many forms of exercising have injury potential involved, he says but hooping seems to be comparatively safe—a trait that attracts more members.
“Ultimately, if the individual does not enjoy the exercise he or she is doing, he is not going to continue doing it,” he says. “So, the main thing is finding something you truly enjoy, and hula-hooping seems to be popular among youth.”
Wessel says hooping is a concept often mistakenly associated with the “hippie” culture. With the club, she aims to bring about the fact that it can be for a majority of college students as well.
In addition, Wessel says the hula-hooping trend also goes hand-in-hand with a the rising popularity of wacky collective exercising trends that are prevalent among younger generations.
“We’re much more active than our parents in terms of exercise regimens,” Wessel says. “We’re a very social generation and hooping is a very social activity. I learned from it my friends and now I’m teaching my other friends.”
Hooping enthusiasts like Wessel and Cox say they find it to be more of an art form rather than a run-of-the-mill exercise.
Cox says hooping has become her outlet for creative, interpretive and impromptu dance.
“What’s so great about it is that I can do it anywhere, and I’ll have people come up and ask me questions about it,” she says. “But I can’t say the same for ballet or dance—if you do it out on the street, people will just think you’re just a really strange person.”