Picture the scene. A thirty-something singleton fresh out of a ten year relationship who is so far in the black abyss of debt and ill health that the only escape looks to be through the back door. Hardly a cheery start to blog post three is it? But, if it hadn't been for this dark and gloomy setting I may well not have found hoop dance. One Saturday, on the back of a recommendation, my loving yet pushy sister dragged me to a hula hoop workshop run by Emma Kenna at Hooping Mad. Now, like most people there I hadn't spiraled in a hula hoop since childhood and so whilst it felt fun, it kinda felt silly. But good silly. The sort of silly that makes you realise that being an adult is way too serious at times.
The hooping seed had been sown. I skipped off down Park Street, Bristol with a hand-made hoop in one hand and my best friend (that's you Karen) in the other. I had been given a new lease of life. I soon discovered, within the safety net of my own living room that hula hooping was The One. I had never been that keen on exercise but I had finally found a way to move and build my strength that was actually enjoyable. Wahoooo! It was a light bulb moment! Having suffered with debilitating glandular fever, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and M.E from the age of seventeen, I found exertion of any kind both terrifying and exhausting. Hooping was different. Over the coming weeks and months I set aside time each day to hoop to my favorite tunes. I began attending a weekly hula hoop class, all the while I was building in confidence, stamina and resilience, three words that hadn't been synonymous with me before! In addition, I took up meditation and suddenly the dark cloud was beginning to lift. Magic dust had been sprinkled over me and I felt lighter, happier and hopeful. What a huge relief!
The icing on the proverbial gluten-free cake (no wheat here thank you!) has been meeting so many like-minded, inspiring and beautiful people along the way. People who have given me the motivation to get out there and kick some hoop dance butt. Special shout out to Karen, Natalie, Zoe, Peter, Lia and Nicola. With their support I've pushed myself to perform in public and teach. Hats off to you guys! I've never had much belief in myself so this was HUGE! Hence the photo - that's me filled with fear and excitement before heading to my first public performance in 2014. St Pauls Carnival what an adrenaline rush that was! I even starred in the local news bulletin - six times (as my Dad likes to point out!).
Sometimes, like the majority of the working population, I curse my job. It is a drag of a commute and the government are forever changing the goal posts of how to educate our youth. But you know what? My job has been, and still is, a stepping stone to new possibilities. Through my role as a primary school Learning Mentor I have been able to share my love and passion for hoop dance with children for the past 5 years. What started off as an informal playground jamming session led to a successful hoop dance after-school club. I run the class every week and I LOVE it! We play games, we dance, we jam and for the last two years we have choreographed and performed at the Stages dance festival at Colston Hall. Proud hoop teacher alert!
2016 will see me teach additional classes and workshops as a certified instructor, once I have completed the Hoop Love Coach Training. And that is beyond exciting for me. Why? Because I believe children have a right to be happy, healthy and creative. That's why I am hugely passionate about social and emotional development among our youth because it so very important children have the foundations in place in order to enable them to be the best they can be. Movement and dance with a plastic circle facilitates so many fun learning opportunities and subsequently I have watched as school refusers, Young Carers and children with behavioral difficulties grow, develop and flourish. To inspire self-expression and give young people the tools to transform and thrive is what it's all about for me. Whether it's developing my own practice or teaching others, the power of the hoop is in the love of the learning.
Rise Up and Hoop Dance