Published on June 25th, 2014 | by TLV News0
Join the Hoop Revolution for Fun & Health
by Suanne Strider
No one knows for sure when the first hula-hoop was made, but most historians agree that the first recorded use of the hula-hoop was in ancient Egypt, around 3,000 years ago. Ancient Egyptian children would weave together dried grapevines to make hoops to roll along the ground and swing around their waists. The ancient Greeks, always concerned with fitness, used the hula-hoop to tone their abdominal muscles. And in the 1300s a hooping trend swept across Europe—thought to have been brought back by the explorers of the time from places where natives were using them for religious, ritualistic purposes. These natives no doubt included the American Indians, who used multiple hoops spun around different parts of their bodies at the same time to symbolize the never-ending circle of life, and also to imitate the movement and appearance of sacred animals such as snakes, butterflies, and eagles.
It is surprising that this seemingly new-age toy has been used throughout the ages for fun, exercise, and even for worship. We, in the modern age, tend to think that we invented the hula-hoop—no doubt because of the hula-hoop craze of the 1950s in America, and then again with its re-entry into pop culture in the 1980s.
I got my first hula-hoop for Easter in 1982. There is no telling how many hours of hooping I did with that hula-hoop. It was pink and white striped and smelled like peppermint (why in the world did we think we had to scratch and sniff everything in the ‘80s?). I literally wore it down to where the bright pink faded to pale rose and there were scratches all over it. Most of the time it was covered in dirt (I grew up in the Delta—don’t judge me). I don’t remember the day my mama made me throw it away, but I’m sure it was a sad one for me, and probably long overdue.
And now hula-hooping has made a comeback, and in a big way. It is now called “hooping” —and it is not just for fun anymore. For some, hooping is a serious business—even a spiritual experience. Gabrielle Lott is an Oxford local who has taken hooping from a hobby to a business. She makes custom hoops of all different sizes and colors. Depending on your level of ability, you need specific sizes of hoop circumference and thickness to accommodate your skill level. Gabrielle is an expert on the specific needs that vary from person to person. She makes the hoops herself out of poly tubing and electrical tape (the tape helps to create grip so that amazing tricks can be achieved with the hoop).
Gabrielle Lott is the longest-running hooper in the state of Mississippi, with seven years being dedicated to hooping for exercise, pleasure, and eventually as community service. In Tupelo she created a group called Hoop-elo that meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays in Fairpark District of Downtown Tupelo. She also is one of the administrators for the group Hooping Oxford. The group has a Facebook presence, and usually meet on Sundays at Lamar Park around 2 pm, weather permitting. They use their Facebook page to coordinate times and dates. Gabrielle usually brings her handcrafted hoops to these meetings so that newcomers can try out different sizes to see which fits their ability level, and they are for sale for between $15 and $25.
Gabrielle, like the Native American Indians many and other hoopers around the globe, believes that there is a spiritual nourishment that comes from hooping. She describes it this way: I think it has a lot to do with tying into the circular motion of the universe. The Earth rotates around the Sun, and then rotates on its own axis. The cells in our body work in a circular motion. I think when you tap into that motion you become more aware of everything around you, including your spirituality.
Christina Coleman is another Oxford local who participates in Hooping Oxford. She also makes custom hoops, and sells them at festivals and local art markets. Christina had a booth set up at the Pine Valley Music and Art Festival near Water Valley last month on May 31, and on July 5 she will have a booth set up on the Courthouse lawn in Oxford as part of the monthly Makers’ Market. She is also the person I just bought my first professional hoop from a couple of weeks ago.
I am really looking forward to the communal, spiritual, and athletic experience that this hoop will give me. It will feel good to feel young again, and seeing my waistline whittle down at the same time is just an added bonus.
For more information on how to join these groups or to buy one of these beautiful, custom-made hoops, you may contact Gabrielle Lott or Christina Coleman via their Facebook pages, or join the Facebook group Hooping Oxford.