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DVD Review: Hoopnotica – Hoopdance Basics, Beginner, Level 1 and Hoopnotica – Hoopdance Workout, Beginner, Level 2

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You might be one of the talented few who harbors memories of fun times spent hula-hooping during the endless summer days of childhood. Getting a plastic hoop to spin around my waist and keep it there through the motions of my body was a skill that seemed to magically appear when I entered high school. Until then it evaded me. If the Hoopnotica team had their instructional hoopdance DVDs available in the ‘80s, I’m sure I would have been a hooping star. Why am I so confident? Their step-by-step, detailed instructions had my five-year-old hooping on her waist within one viewing of Hoopnotica: Hoopdance Basics – Beginner, Level 1 combined with several brief, self-initiated practice sessions.

Hoopdancing has a grassroots history that stretches back ten years or so, a fusion of ‘50s-style hula-hooping and sensual, free-flowing dance. In recent years it has emerged from clubs and outdoor festivals as a legitimate art form and fitness technique. Waves of talented instructors are now breaking down hoopdance moves into systematic, replicable steps and Hoopnotica is on the forefront of that wave. With the release of Hoopnotica’s beginner level instructional DVDs in 2008 under the Acacia label, anyone from clubbers to housewives and children can learn to hoop in their own living room.

Before heading into the instructional portion of each disc, the basic requirements for hooping safely are described. The minimum clear space recommended is eight square feet. I’d recommend more if you plan on doing large, spinning halos, or dancing across the floor in your hoop. Each level starts with a static, stretching warm-up; the second level adds an active warm-up based on the techniques learned in level one.

Lead instructor Rayna McInturf carefully breaks down each basic technique – pointing out “power points” that need to be pushed into, and clearly explaining the finer details necessary for success. McInturf is the founder and director of programming for Hoopnotica. A stunning hoopdancer, she was voted Hooping.org’s Female Hooper of the Year for 2007. To watch her is to instantly see why — graceful and poised, she’s poetry in motion. Set against an ethereal, near luminous set, she glows. A bit different than other dance/workout DVDs, all of the vocal instruction is laid over the video footage. When you're hooping up and down the entire length of your body, there’s nowhere to hide a cordless mic.

Keaton Koechli, co-founder and director of operations, is McInturf’s co-instructor on the DVDs. Koechli really goes the extra mile, taking one for the team as the trouble-shooting guide at the end of each chapter. Time and again she lets her hoop fall to the floor, hit her in the head, the neck, and otherwise look goofy as she demonstrates the many ways we flub up, and how to remedy the most common problems for each technique. It’s terribly endearing.

If you’ve never hula-hooped before, you can get there – and fast. But first you’ll need a large adult hoop; it makes all the difference in the world if you’ve been trying to hoop with a children’s toy. With a large hoop, quality instruction, and trouble-shooting, you’ll be able to waist hoop in a short amount of time. Building from this foundational move, Hoopdance Basics also covers hip hooping, halos, passing, floating, basic corkscrews, and short combinations of basic moves. Walking while hooping and moving within the hoop are also covered in combination with the basic movements. Tracks including a hoop dance demonstration and testimonials from satisfied hoopers round off the disc, bringing the total running time to 51 minutes.

Once the basic moves in the first level have been learned, hoopers can move onto Hoopnotica: Hoopdance Workout – Beginner, Level 2 where additional moves such as  more complex corkscrews, chest hooping, neck and shoulder hooping, angle hooping, thigh hooping, and dancing in the hoop are covered. Though neither of the instructional discs are workouts in and of themselves, a 20 minute workout is included in level 2. This workout isn’t so much what we think of as hoopdance, but incorporates working with hoopdance moves combined with traditional fitness techniques. Picture lunging while waist hooping, and you’ve got an idea of what the workout is like. Level two is 69 minutes in length.

Neither disc should be worked through from front to back. View each instructional segment, then practice. Watch that chapter as many times as you need to. Once the technique is mastered, move on to the next step. At disc’s end you’re ready to attempt combinations on level one and the hoopdance workout on level two. It’s like having your own personal hoopdance class, right at home. That’s a good thing considering the large spans, continent-wide, that are devoid of hoopdance instructors. Then take your moves and go wild. They’re just the foundation for wonderful things to come as you combine them in infinite variations to form your own, personal dance.

Unlike other instructional hooping DVDs, the Hoopnotica team takes care to make their technique accessible to all. Veering away from avant-garde hooping costumes, the instructors are clad in fitness wear that we’re all largely familiar with. The general absence of furry boot covers and lame halter-tops adds to the professional quality of the discs, as well as rendering them non-threatening to the general public.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the fact that hoopdancing burns up to 400 calories per hour. Even better – it’s fun, uplifting, is easy to begin, but takes years to master. Hoop-dancing has all the makings for a physical fitness activity that you can stick with for the long haul. As for me, I think I’ve got waist hooping down, now I need to keep the hoop from popping up to my waist during hip hooping, and learn to chest hoop more consistently. I can’t wait to get out of my cramped living room to do some traveling with the hoop and some of those big halo’s. Better yet, who’s to know what new adventures await in the Intermediate level of Hoopnotica Hoopdance?

Hoopnotica Hoopdance DVDs and hoops are available for purchase at Amazon, the Hoopnotica website, or the Acacia catalog online.

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About Jennifer Bogart

  • a conncerned hooper

    WARNING: plaese do not buy hoopnotica travle hoops! they are dangerous! the hoops are made so that after no less then a month the screws are pertruding and sharp. these screws cut you! they are not safe!

  • P

    Terrible Hulahoops far to heavy! The travel hoop is very useless as the clip buttons that slip in to each other require you to push your finger right inside the hoop jamming your fingers. Needed help taking it apart! When i attempted to return charged me 25$

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