An ancient toy first made from wood, grass or vines, these simple circles get their name from the traditional Hawaiian dance observed by British sailors sometime in the 1800s. But it wasn’t until the 1950s that the Hula craze as we now know it swept the USA when over 100 million hoops were sold as teens took to this wiggly workout.
Like all fads, the Hula Hoop met a swift and almost inexplicable demise. But, over the last few years, a new, and perhaps more lasting iteration of the Hula Hoop has risen again. But this time, it’s adults who’re leading the charge.
In Melbourne, Deanne Love’s popular Hooplovers classes are packed out every night of the week. Deanne found the Hula Hoop like most people: watching someone dance on the internet. “She was totally rocking out, but she wasn’t a professional or anything, she was just rocking out,” recalled Deanne. “I thought, that’s really rad! I can do that!”
So she went out and found herself a hoop - but it wasn’t as easy as it looked. “I was really bad,” Deanne admitted. “I couldn’t work out why. I started checking it out, and I realised I needed an adult-sized hoop - and a lot of practice.”
Soon, Deanne was spending two hours a day hooping in the park. “I didn’t have the idea I would be joining the circus, I didn’t want to be a performer, I wasn’t dance-trained or anything like that,” she said. “I just loved it.”
As she began Hula Hooping regularly she also noticed her body was changing. Not only had she lost weight, but her core strength and coordination had improved. “I think I can parallel park way better because I’m a hula-hooper,” she laughed. “It tones your muscles and makes everything stronger. It’s exceptional for posture, because your core gets stronger and everything comes back into alignment.”
So enamoured with the pleasures of hooping was Deanne that she quit her job and went to LA to train with the world’s experts. “It’s like the Mecca of contemporary hoop dance,” she said.
Now, Deanne’s officially a professional hooper. Apart from her hoop training classes and online workshops, Deanne also performs at dance parties to get the crowd really moving. “When a big-name DJ comes on, or just before that, I’d come out on stage with flashy hula-hoops and get everyone amped up,” she said. “The hoops that I used had LED lights in them, so they just totally glow. It was a great workout for me!”
Deanne was adamant that hula hooping isn’t just for dancers - or kids. “Exercise can just be hard, even when it’s fun. Classes are a cool way to do that, because you’ve got to show up and actually hoop,” she explained. “A lot of people are really into it for the fitness element, and just to express themselves.”