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Get Hooped!

What a year it’s been since I’ve last posted. I. almost. died. Really! I will have to write about that soon. In the meantime, I have been focusing on marketing consulting, not writing so much. I did write this short piece for Alameda Magazine. If you choose to go to the Magazine’s site to read it, scroll down the page a bit. If not, just keep reading here.

Get Hooped

Be careful if you venture into Betty Lucas’ exercise class on Monday nights at Rhythmix Cultural Center. You might get “hooped.”

The hour-long session offers a full-body workout of hip moving and twirling to lively music with the aid of easily recognizable PVC piping in the shape of a circle. But these are not the Wham-O Hula Hoops from the 1950s. This hooping class uses larger, heavier adult hoops, often made by the hoop teacher herself.

Diagnosed with osteoporosis just a few years ago, Lucas was looking for an exercise routine to replace her beloved practice of running when she happened upon a woman hooping at a festival in Oregon.

“It was something I had never seen before,” says Lucas, a former classroom teacher who also taught ballroom dance. “It was so beautiful, combining dance moves with the hoop.”

It was also full-body, weight-bearing and low-impact, three physical attributes she was seeking to replace the pounding of running. Lucas began waist hooping, the more traditional version of the exercise, and soon moved into more complex moves incorporating other body parts, like arms and shoulders. Today, Lucas travels all over the world teaching hooping. Most recently, she completed a video demonstrating “HoopChi,” a method that combines the Chinese martial art tai chi with hooping.

“It’s very addictive,” the self-ascribed “hoop nerd” says. “It’s exercise disguised as fun.”

The exercise has grown significantly in popularity in a short time. Lucas says she has taught multiple generations of hoopers in a single class. The RCW session regularly attracts 10 to 15 people.

“I think it’s successful because for many people while they are taking the class, the joy of youth comes back,” Lucas explains. “Also, with so many people sitting at computers all day and obesity on the rise, people are looking for a creative outlet that gets them moving but is also inexpensive.”
Lucas’ advice for those looking for a new way to move their bodies while still having fun? “Give it a whirl!”

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  1. January 12, 2011 at 9:43 am | #1

    OK, so I need to know what happened. Much too disconcerting to read “I nearly died” then leave it at that. And loved the article about knitting … surely that didn’t start something terrible? Anyway, great to read your words and therefore hear your lovely voice in my head, it’s been a l o n g time. Sending best wishes from a grey day in the UK, Clare (nee Bowen-Davies) x

  2. February 18, 2011 at 7:57 pm | #2

    Ditto above, what happened?

    I saw the hula hoops at Big 5 and thought, wow, that would be fun. And you confirm it! Maybe hula will be the new… yoga ?

  3. Kathy Whittaker
    April 28, 2011 at 4:16 pm | #3

    I know the story, but would LOVE to hear it from your eyes (perspective)! Love you Mary Lee <3

  4. June 3, 2011 at 6:35 pm | #4

    Hi Marylee. I just picked up your business card and decided to check out your site when I saw your last posting. Hope all is well. Please share your story when you are ready. I’m sure it will be worth reading.
    Lis Golden McKinley
    Oakland organizer

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