In recent years, a new form of hula hooping called "hoop dance" has caught on in the United States, most notably on the east and west coast. Unlike the hula hooping of the “Patty Duke” era, hoop dance is a combination of hooping around the waist, neck, arms, or legs, along with dance moves and hoop tricks with names like the Escalator and Isolation. (There are hundreds of moves to choose from.) If you're still unsure what hoop dance is, there are hundreds of videos online.
While hula hooping is typically associated with children, hoop dance is capturing the attention of people of all ages.
"Whether you're a kid or adult, everybody enjoys it. I've very rarely come across a person who doesn't laugh or smile or have fun with it", said Missy Cooke, owner and instructor of Lansing Hoops. "There's a lot of versatility in hooping that allows any type of body, fitness level, and artistic style do it."
For Dorothy Archambeau, one of Missy's students, hooping is a way to relive childhood memories.
"When I was a kid I could hoop like crazy, so I thought it would be fun to try again," Archambeau said. "I love the classes. They are great exercise, which is why I joined. You learn how to do tricks quickly and look like a pro in no time! Missy is an incredible, natural teacher."
Cooke, who opened Lansing Hoops in July 2014, only started hooping in April 2014.
"I actually met a professional hula hooper — I didn't even know that was a thing — and she got me into hula hooping. I was looking for an exercise I could do with my kids and simultaneously I was looking for a new business opportunity," Cooke said. "I didn't know how to hula hoop so I had to teach myself so I could carry out this business adventure."
Although hooping has been making its way to the Midwest in recent years, starting Lansing Hoops was difficult for Cooke. She considers hooping a young, underground activity because most people think hooping is just waist hooping.
"I had to do a lot of work to educate the community about what it is and that everyone can do it. One of the best things I've done is just be out in the community with my hoop, hooping. People can't help but walk up and ask you questions about it," Cooke said.
Yusuke Hasegawa, one of Cooke's students, likes to take her hoops to public gatherings like picnics and music festivals. “It's a great way to get a group of strangers playing together,” Hasegawa said.
Because the business is still fairly new, Cooke only offers one children's class and one adult class. Although registration is closed for the children's class, people of any skill level are encouraged to come to the adult class. Cooke incorporate moves that everyone can learn at their own level.
"My main goal is that the person gets out of the class what they came there for,” Cooke said. “A bigger goal I have as a teacher is to teach people that hooping is a lot more than just waist hooping and that it's a ton of fun and that there's a lot of versatility to it.”
For people who are nervous or unsure about hooping, Cooke offers a FREE hoop jam at Patriarche Park every Wednesday from 6:30-8:30 p.m. until mid-August. Any skill level is encouraged to come and Cooke considers it a great way to get the hooping community together.
"I have seen more interest and I've also seen a lot of living room hoopers come out into the community and teach each other,” Cooke said. Before Cooke began to teach hooping and prosyletize about it publicly, there were a few scattered hoopers in the area, but a network is starting to grow. "The more hoopers out creates more awareness, so that's been really nice because the community that already existed became more cohesive," Cooke said.
Cooke's classes are held at 1607 E. Kalamazoo St. every Tuesday from 8-9 p.m. The first class is free and every class after is $20 to drop-in or $60 for a four-week program. More information can be found at lansinghoops.com.