Chances are you took a Hula Hoop for a spin more than a few times when you were growing up. While Hula Hooping is still a great entertainment source for children, it has evolved over the past few years to become a nationally recognized fitness routine for adults who are looking for a way to inject some fun and creativity into their exercise regimen. To gain an insider's perspective on this popular fitness movement, we recently chatted with rising hooping star, Katie Sunshine, who not only crafts her own custom hoops, but also offers a plethora of instructional hooping tutorials and workouts for those who are picking up the hoop for the first time to the most skilled hoopers.
Fitness Cult Chronicles: Tell us a little more about how you got into hooping...
Katie Sunshine: I was attending a music festival in 2008 when I saw a girl dancing with a hoop by the main concert stage. I was totally mesmerized by her! I had never seen anyone dance with a hula hoop before. I watched her spin and twirl and she just looked so free and happy that I found myself wanting to be in her shoes. I got to thinking that hooping seemed like the kind of activity that with just a little practice, one could teach themselves. So I bought a cheap department store hoop and started practicing. Once I started, I was completely hooked! The rest is history...
FC^2: Do you do any other kind of training that helps with your hooping?
KS: Hooping is a great cardio exercise, so I like to pair that with some muscle toning for a well-balanced workout. I also find that lifting weights to strengthen my arms and shoulders (my weak spots) helps when I'm doing moves or tricks that use my hands or arms. I also enjoy yoga and pilates to help with my flexibility and balance - both are very important tools when I'm performing. Often times, I use my hoop as a workout tool rather than dance partner, if you will. I have a full body workout that I do with my hoops and use a variety of hoop sizes for different exercises. It's amazing what a workout it is! I sell the workout DVD's on my website, which can be purchased here.
FC^2: The hooping movement has really started to pick up speed and gain notoriety over the last few years, what are your projections for hooping in the years to come?
KS: I think hooping will still be around and stronger than ever. One of the things I've noticed more than anything is the way advancements in technology translate into the hooping world. There are LED hoops, Smart hoops (hoops that can be programmed to flash different color patterns as you hoop), and even hoops that react to the beat of music. Down the road, I envision a fitness hoop that keeps a running tally on how many calories you burn.
FC^2: What kind of hoop do you use, or does it vary by routine?
KS: I find that different hoop sizes lend themselves to different tricks. Different sizes can also be good for different exercises. For example, large, heavy hoops are good for toning muscles and strengthening your core while small, light hoops are best for cardio training. Whatever hoops I use, though, I make them myself. That way I can tailor the hoop to whatever exercise or trick I'd like to perform. Click here to check out Katie's custom hoops!
FC^2: What's been your favorite hooping experience or performance thus far?
KS: So far, my favorite hooping experience was getting to perform in Jerrod Niemann's music video, "Drink To That All Night." It was an extreme honor that I was chosen to hoop alongside Jerrod and it was altogether an unforgettable experience. Once the video was released, it was fun watching it climb the charts each week, finally landing at number one! I can't even describe how exciting it was watching myself on TV as part of the number one music video of the week.
FC^2: What do you say to people who don't take hooping seriously as a fitness routine?
KS: I say, "Have you tried it?!" and usually the answer is "no." Everyone I've convinced to try hooping has been amazed at how quickly their heart rate increases. It's is a tough workout and hooping around your waist can burn 400-600 calories per hour - no jumping or tricks required. So far, I haven't met anyone who is still a critic after trying it.
FC^2: Have you ever tried fire hooping? If so, what kind of training does that entail?
KS: Yes, and it's a total adrenaline rush! As far as training for fire hooping goes, it just requires being comfortable enough with a hoop you're not afraid to try. I also suggest tying up long hair and wearing tight fitting clothing that won't flap or hang into the flames. Make yourself as fire resistant as possible!
FC^2: What's the best way to get started for someone who is considering trying out hooping for the first time?
KS: The best way to get started is just the way I did - get a hoop and start practicing! Whether it be in your front yard, your living room, your local park, in front of the TV, or all of the above, just get out there and practice. I also want to add that having the appropriate sized hoop makes all the difference. So many adults tell me about failed hooping experiences, but that's because they've tried a flimsy kids hoop from the department store. These small department store hoops are made for kids. Adults need a larger, heavier hoop, especially if they're just learning. I'm available anytime to give a "hoop diagnosis" as I call it, and help you decide the right hoop for you.
Visit the links below to learn more about Katie Sunshine:
Facebook Fan Page: https://www.facebook.com/katiesunshine14
*Photo courtesy of Katie Sunshine