For the Love of Hoops
It all began as a simple Facebook post that led to the development of friendship and an undeniable love for hooping. Cassie Gabriel, freshman elementary and special education major, was not only interested in finding a roommate, but also what she calls a “happy hooper.” “Everyone that responded thought I was talking about basketball and Ashley was the only one that knew that I was talking about hula hooping,” Gabriel says. Downing says she discovered her interest in hooping just a few months ago. “I had no idea how to hula hoop around my waist at that time but then my friend made me a hula hoop and I began teaching myself,” Downing says.
The two students enjoy expressing themselves through movement at least once a day, weather depending. During the night hours, they like to put on their own light show by hooping with L.E.D hoops. “The cool thing about L.E.D hooping is it plays with your peripherals so as much as you are giving someone a light show, you are also giving yourself one as well,” Downing says. “When you’re hooping in the dark you aren’t thinking about looking at the crowd but you’re more lost in the L.E.D.” Downing says that there is no trick to L.E.D hooping because the lights act as a guide for performing. Many of the moves for this type of hooping is not limited to the waist as in traditional hooping but also involve other body parts such as the arms, legs, wrist and neck.
Gabriel purchased both of her L.E.D hoops online for about $300 a piece while Downing purchased both a regular L.E.D hoop as well as supplement hoop that breaks apart into two mini hoops. “I didn’t want to get my L.E.D. hoop until I got better because I could reward myself but hooping with L.E.D gets a lot more attention such as when you go to festivals and public places,” Gabriel says. L.E.D hoops with numerous light settings, decor or colors can cost a bit more than the average hoop. “The L.E.D hoops are a little bit heavier than the average hoop and sometimes hurt,” Downing says while showing a bruise left by her hoop.
Both Downing and Gabriel have found that hooping is an escape from everyday life and by doing it often it promises better mood. “Cassie made me see it as more as a form of meditation, a way of connecting with yourself and finding your higher self,” Downing says. “When you hoop you get into the flow of it, get lost in the music, and you tend to forget about everything else that is going on.”
“It’s really hard for me to meditate traditionally but when I hoop I have positive energy circulating around me. When I move the hoop around my body it is radiating all around my body and I am in the happiest place,” Gabriel says.
The first time Gabriel began hooping she focused on perfecting each move and did not began to piece them together until she got more comfortable. This concept is what she calls “flow.” “It’s where you get so lost in learning that everything comes so easy and you go with it. It is an amazing experience,” Gabriel says. “You think about what’s in the moment and the next comes naturally,” says Downing.