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As a hula hoop instructor and performer, I’m on a mission to change the world, one hula hoop at a time.

I am passionate about promoting physical and mental health, using hula hoops to kickstart a client’s journey towards improving their health and fitness. Hula hooping is an incredible cardio workout and it also improves strength, muscle tone, balance, co-ordination, posture, flexibility, body positivity and self-esteem, while having benefits for mental health and well as physical health.  As you learn a new skill when you hula hoop and constantly learn new ways of moving your body, using both hands to manipulate the hoop and react to its movement, both sides of your brain are engaged and creating new neural pathways in your brain, firing up your brain cells into activity.

It’s a powerful combination.

 

As well as regular studio and gym based classes, I try to take hoop classes to people who may have barriers being able to, or wanting to, attend hoop class or other fitness classes. To do this, I deliver sessions for adults with learning disabilities, physical disabilities, mental health issues, deaf adults and children, blind people and people newly arrived to the country who are unable to speak English.

Hula hoop teaching can be shared by sight, sound and touch, and movements and manipulations with hoops being adapted and tailored to the needs of any group.

With hula hooping, no-one can be good at everything upon their first try but everyone can be good at something and feel that sense of reward and achievement. However, the repetition of hula hooping and the building of muscle memory that develops – just like when your movements become second nature when driving a car – means that any group will be able to achieve success for themselves over time. This will be relative to their starting point in some groups but it is still a success and a huge achievement to any person learning a new skill.

In my group with adults with learning disabilities, the improvement over the weeks has been incredible to see.

 

Week one, I observed that for some stepping in and out of the hoop, even while lying flat on the floor, was very challenging. Standing on one leg was met with fear and most were unable to do it. By the end of the first class, only two in a group of 25 were able to hoop around their waist and only one could hoop around their hands.

By the last week of the term, the change in the ability of the group was truly astounding.

The group was following a simple routine, involving stepping and skipping through the hoop, waist hooping even though this meant just a few rotations for some, walking while waist hooping for others, hand hooping, some simple tricks and manipulations with not just one but two hoops, and most of all, when faced with a new hula hoop challenge, met it with self-confidence and determination. And joy.

People who struggle in social or group situations often find they are able to participate in hula hooping sessions as the hoop is the primary focus. The hoop also forms a protective barrier around you, allowing you to be with the group but on your own terms, only interacting with others as much as you want to, as each person is focused on their hula hoop.

And the most important thing is that it is so much fun! It allows you to play again and express yourself through movement.

 

I began hula hooping three years ago and as an introvert suffering from anxiety attacks and an avoider of social situations, I found that hula hooping helped me personally break down the barriers I had constructed around myself.

I reached out to people over the protective barrier of my hula hoop and made real friends and said yes to hula hooping activities which terrified me. These activities included a city parade, on stage at a burlesque show, teaching my first class –  but I knew these things were something I had to do if I was ever to conquer the fears and anxieties that I lived with. And so I slowly changed my own world, one hula hoop at a time. The hula hoops transformed my life from one of avoidance and anxiety, to one of performance, teaching, sharing, making new friends and travelling. I share hula hooping now with as many people as possible,in the hope it can help other people, the way that it has helped me.

 

Rachel Conlisk

Hula hoop instructor at Spinsonic Entertainment
Rachel Conlisk is a hula hoop instructor and performer.
Rachel Conlisk

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