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Natural Awakenings Charlotte

Hooping It Up for Health and Harmony

Aug 11, 2010 12:51PM

by Lisa Moore photo by Dorne Pentes

The colorful, plastic hoop from Wham-O that was a staple of our childhood toy box has evolved into a powerful exercise tool. Hooping, or hoop dance, is a fun, inexpensive fitness trend that provides a ‘well-rounded’ workout for the body, mind and soul.

Gone are the light, flimsy hoops of the ‘50’s. Using large, weighted hoops makes it easier to keep the hoops around your waist instead of your ankles. So if you were one of those embarrassed kids who couldn’t keep their hoop going, it should be easier with this souped-up version.

The hoops, which can be custom made, come in many sizes; bigger ones rotate slower and small ones faster.

Hooping can trim your waist, hips, and thighs, build abdominal and lower back muscles and give you a great cardio work out. An hour of hooping may burn as many calories as an hour-long jog on a treadmill. Hoops can work out arms and other muscles as tricks are learned.

It also massages the intestines and organs as it circles the waist, enhances spinal flexibility, improves coordination, increases the energy level and flow of blood to the brain. Beyond the physical, many hoopers note an improvement in emotional well-being as well.

Wendy Fishman, a local hooping instructor who has taught both children and senior citizens, considers hooping as much an inner exercise as an outer. “It can be very meditative to some, as the circular motion provides a very soothing and organic form of natural exercise.”

Fishman’s husband Dorne Pentes took up hooping last year and she soon realized she had no choice but to join in. “He started hooping incessantly and it was the only way I could talk to him,” she says, adding that she had seen other amazing hoop dancers and was taken with the beauty and style of it.

Pentes formed The Spin Revolution along with fellow hooper Katrina Cauble. The informal club connects Charlotte area hoopers and offers weekly hoop jams where folks can teach each other, trade tricks and talk hoops. The group also hosts weekend workshops and classes that teach hooping basics.

Cauble and Pentes both developed an interest in hooping while attending the annual Burning Man event in Nevada.

“I was attracted to the dance and how it looked very magical and beautiful all at the same time,” says Cauble, who notes that nearly as many guys as gals attend the jams.

The hoop can rotate on several areas of the body and all spaces within and outside of the hoop can be freely explored. Modern hooping has become an art form weaving rhythmic gymnastics, hip-hop, freestyle dance, fire dance, and other movement forms.

Pentes believes hooping can take individuals to some deeply spiritual places. “Hooping opens up all of our chakras- the motion of the hoop spinning around our bodies mimics the motion of the earth, the motion of energy, the galaxy, the universe,” says the 47-year-old filmmaker and father of two.

“When we hoop we immediately get in touch with the energy of the universe and cause that energy to flow freely around us. It makes us happy.”

For info on upcoming hooping events visit

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