Festivals are for our enjoyment. The music, the people, the atmosphere…festivals are made up of the perfect ingredients for a good time. Something that always seems to catch my eye though are hoopers. They flow with the music, dancing and twirling around, never to miss a beat. Their main weapon? The hula hoop.
Hula hooping is often thought of as something we do as a child…which yes, is true…but hula hooping in today’s age is an art form, a practice, and a great way to exercise our bodies. When I saw that we were selling hula hoops online in our festival shop, it made me realize what was once just a circular plastic play toy has turned into something that has created a community at festivals, and something that now people of all ages can use and enjoy. I wanted to find out more about hula hooping, so I turned to one of my hometown friends who is a pro when it comes to hooping and performing at festivals.
I follow Amanda on Instagram, and her pictures and videos that she posts are always inspiring and always entertaining. A bohemian beauty that radiates good vibes, I knew she would be the perfect person to reach out to. Read below to find out more about this inspiring babe and get the lowdown on hooping!
How long have you been hooping?
I have been hooping for two and a half years and fall in love all over again every time I pick up the hoop.
How did you start? Did someone or something inspire you to do so, or was it something you kind of just picked up?
I first heard about hooping from my good friend Cecelia. Although I had never seen her perform, she would always talk about how great it was and how I should pick it up. At the time I had no idea what hooping really was because it wasn’t as popular then. I thought it was merely the basic waist hula hooping I had done as a child. That summer I took a trip to Tennessee to visit family in a small town, where I was surrounded by nature and had lots of time to reflect. I decided to look up some videos on girls who were into hooping and saw that there was so much more to it than I had ever imagined. These girls were very talented and graceful. I was in awe and couldn’t keep my eyes off the screen. As soon as I got home from my trip I went straight to my computer to order my first hula hoop as an early birthday present to myself!
What is your favorite part about hooping?
My favorite part about hooping is that when I get in my zone and begin to flow, it is just me and the hoop. The outside word seems to disappear along with all of the stress and worries of everyday life. It is my meditation.
What is your favorite environment to hoop in?
I love hooping at drum circles which I attend weekly and are usually on the beach. I love listening to the harmony of the beating drums together with ocean waves and breeze. Besides drum circles, I just love to hoop in a community with positive people and good energy.
I know you travel to festivals in the area to demonstrate your skills. What has been the most memorable one you attended and why?
My favorite festival has to be Aura Music & Arts Festival! It is located in the beautiful Suwannee River Music Park and I have attended two years in a row. As the music played at the main stage it seemed like everyone who wasn’t in the crowd was spinning in the field. I met so many awesome hoopers at the festivals at Suwannee. Many of them are more experienced and I felt comfortable walking up to them and asking them how they did a certain trick. For that weekend, everyone seems like family because we are all connected in some way. I have yet to attend any festivals such as HoopPath or Florida Flow Fest, but that is next on my list.
What is your favorite music to listen to when hooping? Do you have a favorite song that you have been practicing to recently?
I listen to a large variety of music while hooping so I would have trouble picking only one song. A small list includes funk, electronica, jam, reggae and alternative rock. Some of my favorite bands to hoop to lately has been Papadosio or Lotus, so you’ll usually see me jamming to their Pandora stations. No matter what I listen to, I try to move my body in sync with the music and use the beat to guide my movements.
What is your favorite thing about performing for a crowd at festivals?
I love performing at festivals not mainly for the attention but in hopes to inspire my viewers. Hooping to me is an art form so if I can spark some creativity in anyone watching me then that is the greatest reward. It is also a win-win situation because performing can be a bit nerve-wracking to me, so in return I get the experience of performing in front of a crowd of people.
Have you noticed any physical/mental changes to your overall health and well-being since hooping?
Hooping is probably one of the most positive aspects of my life and I am so grateful that I picked it up. Who knew that a tiny plastic circle could have changed my life, but it did. Since I was little I have struggled with anxiety. As I saw myself improving, I gained confidence in myself. As an added bonus, I noticed my hand eye coordination and physical fitness was improving as well. Soon I was able to go out to events such as drum circles and flow gathering with nothing but my hoop, and was easily able to start conversing with other people (which I normally would have been too shy to do). In addition, every time I feel tense or stressed out I pick up my hoop and start to spin my heart out. It is my release.
I see you dabble in hooping with fire…tell us about that! Was it hard to get used to having fire so close to you?
I had my “first burn” one year after hooping, and it was the most exhilarating thing I had ever experienced! I loved hearing and feeling the whirlwind of fire all around me, although it was a bit intimidating. After hooping for a year, I had practiced certain moves that I was confident enough to accomplish with fire. The trickier moves, I didn’t even try. When I first started fire hooping I was mostly worried about burning my hair (haha), so I would wear a bandanna. The trickiest part about fire hooping to me was being aware of the wicks, and making sure I placed my hands in the right positions while transitioning from moves. Once I got more confident with the fire, I was able to hoop more fluid and confidently. Sometimes I still have trouble chest hooping because the flame seems so close to my face, but I have hardly ever singed myself! I would suggest to not rush into hooping with fire, wait until you are ready. You must be with someone who is experienced and definitely take the proper precautions!
What have you learned from being a part of the hooping community? Has it helped you grow in any way?
I have learned that the hooping community is so loving, accepting, and open. If you meet another hooper, it seems as if you are almost automatic friends. I have had so many conversations that begin with “You hoop!? Hey, me too!!” We are all connected by this common interest. As I mentioned before, it has definately helped me open up socially and make many great friends along the way.
What does being “free” mean to you??
Being free to me means having no limitations. Free is being whoever you want to be and expressing yourself truly with whatever inspires you, without fear of judgement.
(image source here)
Amanda’s tips + benefits:
Pick the right size hoop for you.
Everyone is different and have different preferences. Most hoopers seem to start out with large heavier hoops, because it is easier to learn tricks that are on your body. This is because the hoop will move more slowly and you have more room inside. As you progress, some hoopers downsize to a smaller, lighter hoop because it makes off-the-body tricks easier. Again, it is all about preference and what is right for you. Don’t rush into buying an expensive hula hoop!
Hooping is not ALL about tricks.
Learning tricks with your hoop is super fun and exciting! But that is not all there is to hooping. Learning to flow with your hoop and finding your own rhythm is one of the most important aspect and will benefit you in many ways in the long run. Everyone progresses at their own pace so take your time and have fun. If you get frustrated working on a move, just dance around with it for a little and come back to it later :)
Pick up hooping for the right reasons.
Hooping may seem like the cool thing to do, but do it for yourself, not for anyone else!
Benefits of hula hooping:
Fun cardio workout.
Builds strength and flexibility.
Improves hand eye coordination.
Builds community and new friendships.
Lets you play at any age!
(images of Amanda were c/0 Amanda or taken by Paulina)
Thank you, Amanda!
Shop Festival Muse.
Follow FP Jana on Twitter.