We don’t stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing - George Bernard Shaw
Life changing moment
About ten years ago I had a chance encounter that changed my life. As trustee of a local community centre I went along to an open day, and amongst the activities was a hula-hooping taster session. I was 47, and it was getting on for 40 years since I’d last hula hooped. I thought I couldn’t do it any more and would never be able to - but within five minutes the lovely teacher Melanie Kalay had changed all that, and the following week I joined her drop-in classes.
Just the beginning
I quickly learned that waist hooping was just the beginning, and there is so much more you can do with a hoop. Learning different on and off body moves engaged muscles I hadn’t used before, and got my brain working hard too. Through hula hooping I found myself getting stronger, and regaining confidence in my body’s abilities - which had been severely knocked back after suffering back problems in my early forties - and most importantly, having fun!
First hoop goals
That same summer I went along to a festival and saw a hula hooper performing. She was amazing! I loved watching her twirl the hoop around her body in all kinds of fancy ways, but most of all I loved the way she could dance around to music whilst keeping the hoop spinning on her waist, and that became my first hooping goal. I kept my hoop behind the door in my living room, and when working at home with the radio on, when a song I liked came on I would jump up and have a little hoop.
Hoopers of the world
Roll forward a few years, to more hoop courses with the wonderful Jo Mondy of Livelovehoops, joining her hoop troop and performing at local community events… and then in 2016 I was persuaded to join Instagram - no celebrant should be without an account there I was told. But wedding networking quickly fell by the wayside as I discovered the wonderful hoopers of instagram - a worldwide community bringing together hoopers of all ages and all levels of experience, from complete beginners to awesome professional performers - sharing skills, knowledge and encouragement, free tutorials and hoop challenges, and a never ending variety of new moves and combinations to learn.
Dance like no-one’s watching
For quite a few years now my hoops have come along with me any time there might be a chance to play with them - hooping in park where my husband and sons play football or ping pong. But for a long time I was held back by my imagined lack of space. I say imagined, as there’s a whole spacious world out there. It just took that moment of courage to go out with my hoops and my headphones on my own for the first time, and stop worrying about who might be watching or what they might think.
Out of bounds
Nowadays I’m out in my local park any chance I get. My hoops are my dancing partners, and I feel as though I have been given the freedom of the city. I’ve learned that sometimes you have to try and fail dozens or even hundreds of times before that moment of utter delight when a new move clicks into place. Playtime with my hoops helps me decompress from the emotionally intensive work of celebrancy. I’m constantly learning and improving, and having already far exceeded what I would have ever imagined I would achieve when I started out, the bounds of possibility are now constantly expanding!
And I haven’t even started talking about the joys of the flow state yet - more on that another time!
If you want to see what I get up to with my hoops you can find me on instagram @riv_olving_celebrant