Love Local for the Holidays

I woke up this morning to snow on the ground and flurries in the air. This heightened my always-eager-always-early Christmas spirit! Indeed I’m listening to these seasonal tunes as I write– yes, I’m one of those, and I can’t help it! Not only is the snow here, and has Thanksgiving just passed, but there is something else very special about today: Small Business Saturday! Hooray! So as you go about the rest of your holiday weekend (and every day for that matter), I would encourage you to support local, small businesses. Shopping small is a big deal. Shopping local not only promotes a better environment, but it also boosts your local economy and supports a thriving community to be your community (and these, just to name a few!). Plus, it’s a blast! And I don’t know about you, but I notice a HUGE difference in the quality of any handworked items I have purchased from a small business or working artist as being far superior to the alternative.

That said, I’ll put a plug in for a couple of events coming up where I’ll be selling hoops! Once again this year, I’m so pleased to be a part of two amazing local vending opportunities: I Made It! Market and Handmade Arcade. So come on out and hOOp it up with me, and maybe put one under (or around!) your tree!

Much love to all. May your hearts be ever-glowing with radical joy– now, and the whole year ROUND!!

hOOp yOga wOrkshOp


(photo credit: Nathan J. Shaulis)

tOOt tOOt! Wowzas– am I EVER EXCITED for this. This is sure to be off the hOOp! Indeed I’m cooking up some awesome stuff, fusing both hooping and yoga into an unforgettable workshop at the Yoga Hive, right here in Pittsburgh! This is one day only (well, at least for now…), so you sure don’t want to miss it! I can’t wait unite two of my most favorite things into this class setting and get my flow on with y’inz! It’s gonna kick some serious asana. Be sure to register soon, as there are only 2 spots remaining! You can find more information on how to register through the facebook event. See you there! Namaste!

Let’s talk about art.

hOOp makin’

Yes! Hooping IS a form of art! Check it– my hoops were featured in a recent article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Thanks for the coverage, guys! Exciting stuff!

Getting better… faster.

I received a special commission a short while ago from a friend who’s unfortunate tumble had landed her in a pair of crutches. She was understandably bummed about her situation, when her husband suggested to consider decorating this temporary physical support structure if she was going to have to live with them for a given period of time… I am personally all too familiar with recognizing that there is no Fast Forward button on one’s recovery process– that said, when I received an email inquiring as to whether I’d apply my decorative tape sense to crutches, I didn’t hesitate to jump on it (especially since I can now jump at all in my own healed state). We met up during a meeting she had in which she’d be seated for a few hours on end, and I took the crutches with me to another room to deck them out in fun, bright colors.

It took me about three hours to complete this project, given all the hardware and little holes I had to work around. It was something I felt really blessed by to work on, mixed with a little irony upon riding my bike and my supplies over to meet up (for those who don’t know, it was a bike accident that resulted in my own need for crutches). I’m glad I had a full three hours to reflect on my own experiences whilst wrapping reflective tapes, likening the wrapping of the crutches to the wrapping of a wound. Hopefully this funky bling managed to speed up the healing process… I know it happened to heal a little something in me.

A Word about Weight…

I do a fair amount of vending at various events and arts festivals  in and around Pittsburgh throughout the year. One of the most frequently asked questions I get is whether or not  the hoops I make are weighted. It’s a conversation that I have a few quick rehearsed answers for, but the answer ultimately is not only do I not make them, but that I strongly advise against using weighted hoops at all. I do what I can to try to clarify both my own product and the reason for why I believe that weighted is not the weigh to go (puns!).

Before I get into my reason why, I’ll admit that I have made a few weighted hoops (both water-weighted, as well as non-water weighted using a stabilized weight within the tubing) on special request in the past, primarily back when I was first experimenting with materials and ways to make hoops in general. It’s been a long time since I have made any, but this is largely a result of lengthy conversations I have had with folks about the reasons why they should consider losing the weight, if you will. Here is a bit more about why:

First off, regarding water weighted hoops, they can be tricky… and not in a cool way! Rather, when you get these hoops spinning, the water sloshes inside the tubing, making the hoop a bit off-balance all the time. While you can get used to this motion and the speed of the hoop makes the imbalance  less noticeable, it will be much more difficult to learn anything apart from waist hooping. So you can either grow much more frustrated than necessary in learning off-body work, or kiss it goodbye all together.

Some health articles promote the use of “weighted” hoops to help achieve fitness goals. It’s unfortunate that this description of a hoop as “weighted” is so very arbitrary when some of these statements likely refer to a hoop that happens to be heavier than the kid’s hoops we’re most accustomed to seeing, and not necessarily a 3-5 pounder. The material I use for the tubing is already much heavier than that of your typical store-bought hoop, thus making the hoop pretty heavy in and of itself! The decorative tape also adds a fair amount of additional weight as well. Although it goes away pretty quickly, it is not uncommon for new hoopers to experience a little bit of bruising from these hoops as it is when first starting a regular hoop practice (if they hoop vigorously for long periods of time, say an hour or so). Adding the additional weight can be too abusive to the core in my opinion… and it’s certainly a lot less fun to spin and turn and dance within a super heavy hoop.  These weighted hoops can also account for additional back complications, and who wants that! People may be inclined to think that a weighted hoop will help them burn a lot more calories, but I truly beg to differ. When you’re using a weighted hoop, chances are that you will remain in one stationary spot in your gyrating… when your hoop is lighter and you are more free to move about with it, you will. And you will begin to walk with it… and eventually start to dance. And move. And spin. And groove away all your unwanted calories in a fun and seemingly effortless way! It’s kind of amazing actually…

Feel free to email me any of your further questions about weighted hoops, or hoops in general. Please think twice before you decide what hoop is best for you… and know that if you go weighted you may just be cruising for a bruising when you could be advancing in your dancing!!!

The Hooping Life!! PITTSBURGH!!!!!

Image

At long last The Hooping Life is touring and it is making a Pitt-stop! wOOt! Yes, for one night only, on April 19th at 8pm, you’ll be able to catch this much anticipated film! I personally have had an eye on it the whole time I’ve been a hooper. The film was 6 years in the making and highlights 8 different stories of those whose lives have been changed and inspired through the hoop. It resonates on a multi-cultural level while giving an eye-opening look at an infectious and beautiful new subculture.

The film is centered on the creation and encouragement of community, and tells the stories of struggles and healing that touch humanity day in and day out. This incredible film shares stories about how the hoop has touched humanity in a whole host of ways– encircling all kinds of issues from COMMUNITY to HEALTH to SPIRITUALITY to LGBT to FITNESS to ANTIBULLYING to IDENTITY to ENTREPRENEURSHIP and ACTIVISM! Whew! Check out the invite on Facebook! And spread the gOOd wOrd! I sure hOOp to see you there! The film starts at 8pm at Regent Square Theater! Major shout out to PFPCA for all their support in making this happen!! I AM SO EXCITED!!!!!!

If you haven’t already, be sure to catch the trailer!!

O. snOw. (On Winter hOOping)

Mama has always said, “Snow is a four-letter word!” I kinda agree. Well, I mean, yes clearly it is a four-letter word… but she is more so obviously suggesting that it is a foul word. Winter certainly has its extensive list of inconveniences, and it’s no secret that we hoopers of the north, who are exposed to such chilly climates of the tundra’s treachery, have a few more obstacles in our permafrosted paths, which can sometimes hinder our cherished hoopy times. While hips in California and the Carolinas are swaying in sunshine, those of us up north are doing what we can to shake off the snow from our boots, cars, and eyebrows. It can be difficult to maintain the (m)O-tivation and manage to stay in the groove in the dead of winter. I’ve certainly struggled with it myself. I miss the grass between my toes. I miss sleeveless shirts and sunshine. I miss picking up and walking carefree to the park without the need to layer strategically. I miss the outdoor noises and activity of my neighbors. But I’ve come to recognize that one thing I don’t ever have to miss is (you guessed it:) hooping! As a matter of fact, hooping is a strong combatant of winter blahs, and no matter the cold, we must fight the good fight, take up our hoop, and seek to repel those good-for-nothing lethargic blues! Upon warming up from head to toe, and infusing ourselves with endorphins, our bodies will certainly thank us.

As with many things in life, there is a sweeter side to sets of circumstances. Consider using your time indoors to challenge yourself to slow down. Winter always seems to be a pretty introspective time of year, so take time to yourself from within the circle. Push back your furniture, and foster a slow start to gently wake up the body. Use your hoop as a prop to stretch and even to massage our some of the kinks in your neck and shoulders. Emerging from hibernation-mode shouldn’t inflict violence to the body. When you’re ready, rise and hoop! I often like to start with slow music, but lately, I’ve been opting for a heavier hoop and just rockin’ out to a good book. It’s pretty great to start my day with my favorite breakfast combo: reading, hooping, and (of course) coffee.

Perhaps most importantly, do what you can to seek out a hooping community! This is likely the best option for finding a large space that you can let loose in! Here in Pittsburgh, we’re very thankful to have the Union Project where a group of us can come together and hoop on a weekly basis. The space is a real gift to us, but even more important than the space itself is the community that happens. Winter can often serve to isolate us, so it is imperative to do what you can to seek community of lively folks! If there is no community to plug into in your area, consider investigating local schools or gyms that may have space! Chances are, those in charge would dig the opportunity to activate the space, and those whom you know will be hungry to rid themselves of cabin fever and instead burn the floor in a hoop!

Where there’s a will there’s a way. Your hoop is your portal to make it happen. Maybe get super wild and call up some friends to make hoop angles- hoops make great halos! That’s right– do something silly that give the neighbors something to talk about. Embrace this winter season as something special. Use the time to do some dreaming, and choose to make the most of it! But remember: if you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong! Make a change. Invent, discover, and behold the winter wonder.



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