A slightly edited version of our interview with ELLE Magazine.
Australian hula hoop dancer and founder of The Hula Hoop Institute Michelle Tan speaks to ELLE about everything there is to know about hula hooping.
- Why should I hula hoop?
“You should hula hoop if you want to do something different; if you need to introduce exercise in your life but you don’t like running, cycling or the gym; if you want a fun toy to take to parties and festivals; if you want to meet new people; if you want to be reunited with your inner child; if you want to do something other than hang out at the mall or in a café in your spare time. And because it’s more fun than you’ve had in a while!”
- Who can take up hula hooping?
“Hoop dance is for everyone – men, women, boys and girls! To date, The Hula Hoop Institute’s classes have been a mix of men (30%) and women (70%), and we encourage everyone to get involved.”
- How is hula hooping different from other forms of exercise?
“It’s much more fun and you laugh a lot in classes! There is no competition, no mistakes. Unlike other dance or fitness classes there are no set steps to follow. If you have dance experience you can incorporate that into your hoop style but it isn’t necessary to have any experience or fitness level at all.”
- What is hula hooping exactly?
“Hula hoop dance combines technical moves and tricks with freestyle or technical dancing. It also incorporates elements of modern and contemporary dance, acrobatics, circus and fitness. Hooping has come a long way since just spinning a hula hoop around your waist. It is the manipulation of, and artistic movement or dancing with, a hoop (or hoops).
Hooping is an expression of your own personality: Everyone’s hooping style differs from one another. There is no structured routine, or only one kind of technique. Everyone’s movement changes according to the music they are listening to or the way their body naturally moves. It’s beautiful and that makes hula hooping special.”
- What physical benefits does hula hooping offer?
“Hooping is a low intensity exercise, which means it is suitable for even those without an exercise regime or any fitness and dance ability. Time flies when you are hula hooping and you will find you are getting a cardio workout while increasing muscle tone in your arms and core. Over time, benefits include increased coordination and rhythm, better use of the non-dominant side of your body, balance, peace of mind, weight loss and body toning. Hula hooping also decreases stress and tension in the body.”
- What parts of the body does hula hooping target?
“You can hoop dance with almost any part of your body – from your waist, to hips, chest, neck, shoulders, thighs, knees, arms, hands, thumbs, feet and toes. Despite being slim to begin with, I have seen increased toning of arms, shoulders, legs, back and waist.”
- What fitness practices and habits should accompany hula hooping?
“There are no shoulds or must dos, but I have found benefit in regular stretching, and core strengthening practices like yoga and Pilates. Whether hula hooping or not, it is beneficial for anyone to eat a healthy diet – my personal changes include increased fresh produce, grains, fruit and vegetables, decreased processed food, carbs, sugars and meat.”
- What does someone need to bring to a hula hooping class?
“Bring yourself, be ready to play and learn something new. Also bring a bottle of water and wear comfortable, fitted clothes. If you have a hula hoop bring it along! If you don’t have one yet, hoops are provided for use and purchase in all of The Hula Hoop Institute’s classes.”
- Where can I take hula hooping classes?
There are hula hoop classes offered in many cities around the world. Some of our favourite international instructors are Lila Chupa-Hoops in Paris, Emma Kenna in the UK, Morgan Jenkins in Los Angeles, Alexis Collier in Chicago, Donna Sparx and Helly Hoops in Melbourne!
If you prefer to learn in the comfort of your own home, The Hula Hoop Institute offers free beginner hula hoop dance tutorials on our YouTube channel. My first hoop dance instructor Deanne Love also offers lots of tutorials on her Hooplovers website!
If you are looking for an immersive learning experience, The Hula Hoop Institute offers Hoop Dream Retreats taught by some of the best hoop dance instructors from around the world.
- How did hula hooping come about?
“Hula hooping was popular worldwide in the 1950s. The modernised ‘Hoop Dance’ movement started in the West Coast of America at the start of this century and has exploded across North America, Mexico, Europe and Australia over the last decade. In 2015, The Hula Hoop Institute set up in Malaysia to offer hoop dance classes as something new for the community who want to get involved in a movement class that incorporates fun, fitness, movement and dance.”
This is an edited version of Mishie’s interview with Elle Magazine Malaysia.