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I’d like to introduce Diana Lopez, the Founder of BodyHoops based in the USA.  Diana is a Master Hoop Dancer, providing hoop dance products, performances and events packages.  She teaches BodyHoops teacher trainings both in the USA & UK and she has been generous enough to give me some of her time to answer a few of my questions!  Enjoy Spirit Hoop Cake readers, you’re in for a hoopy treat!












 

Can you tell me briefly about your first encounter with a hoop?  What intrigued you about it? 

It was in the summer of 2001, when I first saw Anah (aka Hoopalicious) hooping in the Santa Barbara Summer Parade.  It wasn't the typical hula hooping that we all were introduced to as children, but rather a combination of dance and precise movements with the hoop on and off the body.  I was mesmorized and immediately I knew that it was something I wanted to try.  It was shortly after that, when I sought her out and took my first lesson.  My first hoop was quite large but I felt an instant connection with the hoop and enjoyed the sense of happiness and well-being that it brought to me.

 

Were there many hoop instructors to learn from when you became interested? 

No, pretty much Anah was the first to take hula hooping to this new form now known as hoop dancing.  There were no Youtube videos or instructional dvds and since Anah was living in Los Angeles I didn't even have much access to her.  So I took a basic lesson from her and then just started practicing on my own in my backyard.  It was around this same time, that several others like myself that began to practice hooping religiously, on a daily basis in our own little corners of the world.

 


How did you approach acquiring your skills? 

Mostly, I am self taught.  I live in an area where there are no other master hoopers so I just practiced on my own, fusing my own style of dance with the skills.  Over the first few years, I managed to take a few other lessons from the pioneering hoop dancers.  At this time the movement was beginning to take off, and then with the internet, that really made the hooping movement explode in a big way, allowing everyone access to learn from each other.



When you initially began to hoop dance what was the impact of hooping on your life? 

Hooping had a huge impact in my life when I first started and still does, but in the beginning it was like a miracle that I came upon this art form when I did.  I had just undergone a cornea transplant in my eye, which was quite traumatic physically but also emotionally.  My confidence and self esteem were largely effected and then the doctor had advised me to not engage in physical activity that would put pressure on the eyes, so it was initially very difficult, since I was a very active person who enjoyed yoga, weight lifting and running, which put pressure on the eyes, so I had to stop those activities, and find something to allow me to move in safe form.  This is when I started to hoop and I immediately began to feel a sense of well being and it uplifted my spirits and I began to feel happy and alive again!

 

Were there other people who lived in your area that were learning to hoop?  If there were others who learnt alongside you what are your tips for supporting each other?  If you hooped alone how did you feel about that?  Was there a desire to connect with others or was hooping like a delicious secret you wanted for yourself initially? :o)

At the time, I was an elementary school teacher, so we would hoop together (the students and myself) every morning, which was fun and allowed us to develop loads of skills.  Aside from the kids, there were no other hoopers around, but I didn't care I was obsessed so I would hoop with the class, hoop alone or go to community gatherings and bring along hoops to share with others.

 

If and when you practiced hooping in public, how did onlookers respond to you?  I used to feel that I didn’t want to be seen hooping in public or my own back yard (a dose of “my neighbours might be watching me!” feeling) and I didn’t want be seen making loads of mistakes, did you ever experience anything like that and if you did or even if you didn’t, what advice would you give to people who may be feeling un-confident about practicing hooping in public?

I found a quiet park that was not too busy and I just made a point to hoop there about 3 times a week.  I would take my dogs with me and we would just hang out and play.  I didn't really care what others thought.  I was obsessed so I just hooped as much as possible.  It was always fun to talk with people who would stop by and look.

 



So many hoopers comment on the increase of confidence after they’ve been hooping, that they have found their self-esteem increases.  Can you speculate why this might be?  What is it about hooping that induces these types of benefits? 

The hoop forces you to move in new and interesting ways, unlocking the body and moving energy through, which feels good.  It's playful and fun as well as sensual, so the combination of these things plays a part in increasing confidence and self-esteem.  I found myself believing that I could do the moves and then thrilled to overcome and master the moves which is a big confidence booster.



How long did it take you to learn the different beginner moves? 

A long time.  One thing is to learn the moves but then transitioning from move to move and then moving through the basics with grace took months.

 

For me learning the chest hooping, shoulder hooping and knee hooping took a lot longer to learn and be in some kind of control over, what, if anything, took you a long time to master?

Hooping on the knees and on the chest took months.  I'm amazed at how the learning curve is getting shorter and shorter for hoopers these days, but again at the time  I was learning there was just a few of us so it took longer to get it on our own.

 

How did you feel when a move clicked with you? 

Happy Happy Joy Joy...thrilled!

 

Is there any particular move that you like the most?  What is it about that move you like so much? :o)

I like hooping on the hips, its simple but sexy.

 

What diversity in backgrounds have you encountered with whom you teach?  For example have you worked with dancers, reform centres for teenagers, senior citizens or anything similar?  If you have how did they receive hoop dance? 

Yes, I've worked with large corporate companies doing team building playshops, kids from ages 5-18, women and men in fitness centers, and even mentally challenged folks.  Each of these groups requires a different approach to teaching hoopdance, but it has been well received by all of them.  Even if they struggle with the hoop, just being around it is inspiring.

 

How attractive is hooping to men?  I’ve seen some very handsome and masculine men hoop dance, however, I wonder if some men are put off of hoop dance because they feel it’s a girlie thing and find the hip movements too feminine, how would you encourage men to have a go at hoop dance? 

I actually find that men can get the basic waist hooping movement quite easily without flailing around a whole lot.  There are definitely more women than men, but I have found that many men enjoy hooping also and will just infuse their own masculine style to the movements.

 

With no exception every hooper I’ve met is kind and generous with their knowledge and keen to hoop with others and become part of the hooping community, what do you think it is about hooping that attracts people with these personality traits? 

Everyone loves to be part of a community and since hooping is a fun activity, its gotta be done by a fun group of people, even if the only commonality is hooping, if you like to hoop then you must be cool, right? 

 

How has hooping improved your physique? 

Strong core, balance, coordination, and arm strength.

 

A few hoopers who have a larger physique feel that maybe hoop dance won’t be good for them as they perceive hoop dancers to have slim figures and are already “in shape”, how would you encourage these potential hoopers to have a go at hoop dance? 

If you like to dance, you will most likely enjoy hooping.  Its one of the most fun exercise activities you can do that isn't like a boring exercise routine, so what have you got to lose....except for those unwanted extra pounds right?.  I say go for it, start off with 10 minutes a day and gradually work up to 30 minutes, 5-6 times a week!

 

I’ve heard of seniors hoop dancing, what kind of physical condition does a senior citizen need to be in to approach hoop dance?  How do the benefits of hooping change, if they do at all, for seniors?

The great thing about hooping is that it will flex and strengthens the core, which is going to give you a strong back also.  For seniors, it will be a slower pace with the bigger hoops, but it will feel soothing and fun.  Obviously for anyone, its a good idea to consult with your doctor if you have any question in your mind about your physical condition and being able to hoop.

 

Music is obviously a key factor in hoop dance, what is on your current music playlist for when you’re hooping? 

I love to hoop to a lot of different kinds of music, especially stuff with good percussion and bass.  I love world beats, and playing with lots of different genres of music to see how it evokes different types of dance, movements and play with my hoop.

 

I’ve seen you’re website and noticed it has received a make-over!  It looks amazing!  What exciting things have you got planned for BodyHoops in the future?

Yes, its been exciting to see BodyHoops grow into a thriving successful hoop company over the years.  We will be adding an online distance learning opportunity for teachers to get certification as well as continue to travel and facilitate playshops all over the world.  Our Costa Rica Hoop Retreat has been a big hit, which we will continue to expand on.  We will also continue to provide the best quality and prices for all of our hoops for wholesale and retail.  For more information contact diana@bodyhoops.com

 

Check out www.bodyhoops.com!!!