Hoopnotica classes teach spin control, but it’s going to take some muscle memory to keep your hoop in line.
BEFORE HOOPNOTICA, I did not know how many ways you could hoop.
I had hooped once before at a beginner class, but it had been a while, and I wanted to know what else was possible.
I jumped into class at Compfit in Wallingford with Nicole Spiegel, who has taught hooping for years.
We started with warm-ups without the hoop, stretching our lower bodies and learning basic steps, like how to turn 180 degrees, and then forward again.
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We picked up our hoops, practicing stepping through with a move called “revolving door.” It felt dance-like, and I realized hooping isn’t just about spinning it around your waist.
That was next. Once the hoop started swirling around Spiegel’s waist, it never seemed to stop.
She had us get the feel for basic hooping, and reminded us to keep our arms up so our hands and arms didn’t get in the way.
We walked forward and backward while spinning our hoops, and Spiegel demonstrated how to add on by balancing on the balls of our feet or squatting down on the floor. I had trouble keeping my hoop spinning while walking forward and backward, so I stayed with those basics while more experienced hoopers did the other moves.
Spiegel added the turn. I struggled to keep the hoop spinning while walking, but it was easier to turn in a circle and keep it going.
I could have kept working on that for the entire hour, but there was so much more to come.
Spiegel had us catch our hoops and work on “outflow,” or spinning the hoop in the opposite direction. All of a sudden, my first round of hooping seemed easy.
We worked the same steps, forward, back and in a circle, on outflow. I concentrated on keeping the hoop spinning in this unnatural direction. I was relieved when hoops clattered to the floor. It wasn’t just me.
We went back to our regular flow, suddenly much easier. Spiegel showed us how to spot the gaps of space in the hoop, looking for the moment you see the floor, and slipping your hand down and up. You have to do this fast, and eventually you can work into “slinky,” weaving your hands up and down at the pace the hoop is spinning. It takes a lot of focus, and while I couldn’t do slinky, I could manage one hand at a time.
Spiegel then moved the hoop down to spin it around her thighs, and also demonstrated how to spin around knees or ankles. I watched, and worked on spinning it lower without losing it. It wasn’t easy. She also gave instructions for hooping around your chest, folded forward while hopping to keep the hoop spinning, and then in a backbend. The backbend was the only one I could get at all; I wondered how such a light, plastic hoop could be so hard to keep moving.
For the last chunk of class, we moved to smaller, lighter hand hoops. We spun them around one hand, then practiced lifting an arm overhead and spinning them above us. It looked cool, and was easier to keep going.
But this was also when hoops started flying. Spiegel encouraged us to work a quick grip and release with every rotation of the hoop, but I had trouble mastering this move. Fortunately, my fellow hoopers smiled and were patient with me losing my hoop every few seconds.
By the end of class, my arms and core were worn out, and my brain was relieved to get a break. Hooping is all about muscle memory, Spiegel told us. I’ve got plenty to work on; it might be time for me to get myself a hoop.