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A Circular Teacher

29 Nov

Featured Guest Blogger: Rebecca Morning glory Phipps

A few months ago, my husband got my kids a couple of water hoops from a local toy store. When my oldest daughter got her hands on the new shiny swirly hoop, she picked it up with ease, and was hooping her heart out in the yard immediately. I was made keenly aware of the fact that in all my 31 years, I had never learned to swing one of those hoops around my waist.

I had seen hoopers at shows, and couldn’t figure out the draw of the jam band kids to these toys. I saw the funny widespread street signs depicting pedestrians with a hoop around their waist, and I always chuckled but never really got it…..

I knew there had to be something very special about it to draw such a diverse crowd of people. From tour heads, to club kids, to exercise fanatics. I just didn’t know how, and up until then had not been exposed to the true magic of it.

After a few days of watching my daughter spin to her hearts content, I picked one up and tried my hardest to keep the hoop spinning around my body. But every time I tried, it fell right back down with a big watery clunk on the floor. No matter what I tried, I would whip that thing to the right and blam…down again. It wasn’t until I stopped and spun it in the “wrong” direction…the direction that felt the silliest, that it actuall stayed up. Just for a few minutes, but stayed none the less…

Lesson Number One:
Sometimes the things that feel the strangest to us move us to new places. Right doesn’t always equal comfortable.


I blogged about my hoop experience and the lesson I had learned right off the bat with my fantastic new discovery.  Shortly after, Sara (my fairy hoopmother) sent me a link to some hoop dancers doing their thing. I was awestruck!! How did they move like that? How did they make those hoops defy gravity?! In a couple of days a package came in the mail: my very first big girl hoop! It was a collapsible rainbow hoop and it was beautiful! I was at work when my husband brought it to me, but that didn’t stop me from ripping open the packaging and hooping right there in the bakery! It was blissful!!!

Lesson Number Two:
Even when I think I can’t find anything else in life, new beautiful things arrive (sometimes by mail).

I scoured the YouTube channels, finding all sorts of hoop tutorials, by dozens of seasoned hoopers. I drained the video that my fairy hoopmother sent me of all of its beginner hoop glory! I would watch a segment, go outside and try it till I got it, then move to the next lesson. I wanted to dance with rhythm and beautiful flow…but realized quickly that I couldn’t move in my hoop the way I wanted until I understood the basic concepts of how the hoop moved.

Lesson Number Three:
If you want to learn a language, you first have to learn to make noise.


I was sucking up hoop technique like a dying woman in the dessert. I spent hours in my yard spinning and twirling, laughing, tormenting the dog. I would get a movement, and practice until my body ached. Covered in bruises and dirt I would make my way back inside at the end of a hoop session covered in sweat and smiling from ear to ear…..

Lesson Number Four:
Growth = Bruises and dirty feet…no matter how you look at it.

After about a month of heavy hooping, I started to notice an obvious change in my body. My upper arms started to slender and I could see muscle definition where there used to be none. My bruise-covered legs started to tone up. That baby weight I was holding on to around my tummy was peeling off bit by bit everyday. I felt good about my body and it felt good on me. I felt stronger and more balanced almost immediately. I dropped about 10 pounds in the first 2 months. I figured that would happen after I had read that hooping for an hour could burn up to 600 calories…but I just didn’t think it would happen so fast.

Lesson Number Five:
Fun can make you stronger (this one has been hard to accept!).

Since then, I have become a full on hoop junkie. After a couple of months, I decided to start making my own hoops and hoops for others. I wanted to see other people get excited about hooping too! Hooping has taught me not only a healthier way to move my body, but has challenged me on a daily basis with lessons about life, and yes, even my faith!

Hooping has become a thick thread in my life’s canvas, and I hope to paint it well!


Love hard.
Love right.
Follow your Flow!
Rebecca Morning glory Phipps // “Hoopenanigan”

Rebecca’s Hoop Blog // Hoopenanigans
Rebecca’s YouTube Channel

**A big thank you to the lovely Rebecca for sharing her hoop story (I love you girl!). My heart just aches watching her hoop because I miss her SO MUCH. She is one of my best friends and  is actually my very FIRST friend that I met online and then became friends with in real life 🙂 Here are some photos of our last visit so many years ago. I think we’re due for another one!


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In The Hoop: Nick Guzzardo

27 Oct

Photo credit: Xentaras Photography

After spending time with Nick Guzzardo at Hoop Technique and Hoopcamp, I knew he was something special. He has graciously agreed to share a little more about his love for hooping…enjoy!

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How long have you been hooping?
I started hooping this January, so it’s been about 10 months of eat/sleep/hoop.

Where did you first discover hooping?
I first stumbled upon the hoop at Burning Man, 2009. I remember being in awe of the performers rocking it at center camp, they were amazing! I was especially blown away by the hoopers, but at that moment I didn’t show much interest to hoop myself. An overstimulated brain can only handle so much! I did pick up a hoop one night though. My friends and I found this camp with LED trees that changed colors and hoops all over the place!!! We were there for probably an hour, I remember turning with the hoop for the first time and feeling it slow down a little then launch itself around. Such a good feeling for the first time! I’m glad I experience that daily now.

Was there a particular person who influenced you during your first couple of “formative” months?
I think I’m still in my formative months really. There are so many people that have influenced me…its hard to pin one person down for that. I keep meeting people that inspire me so much! But in the beginning, I started off watching Safire’s YouTube videos religiously. She helped me build a foundation with my hoop and kept me pushing myself to do better. I can’t thank her enough for that!

Who have been the most influential hoopers (aka “hoop crush”) for you?
I have many hoop crushes! My most recent crush is Gail O’Brien, she launched my head off into space at the Harbin Hoop Jam with her bouncy Sharna Rose style. She taught me all these geeky places I could go with my hoop that I was oblivious to. But I’d have to say the most influential hoopers for me have been Rich and Brecken. They both have such unique, solid and different styles. At Hoop Technique in Boulder, Rich and Spiral broke everything down and brought so many concepts into a new light. They really filled me up with inspiration! Brecken was one of the first hoopers I found on YouTube besides Safire and I couldn’t even comprehend what she was doing at the time! I just new it was sick and fit perfectly to Dubstep. She is the nicest person ever, I roll all over the ground now thanks to her.

Do you practice daily? How many hours a week? Where?
I used to practice daily in my basement or backyard, for 4 or 5 hours. Now it depends on my day and how I’m feeling. Some days I’ll rock out for hours and be killing it, and other days my body doesn’t agree with me and I can’t get into my flow at all…which sucks. On days like that I just set my hoop down and walk away…and return later with a clear head. I also go to a circus jam on Wednesdays at the Boulder Circus Center. There I take advantage of full length mirrors and high ceilings to practice moves and ideas that limit me in my basement.


L to R: Me (Sara), Tracey Knowles, Danielle Odette, Rainbow Michael, Nick

Do you have a local group/friends that you hoop with?
I’m a part of the great spin community here in Colorado! We put on a fire performance two times a week in the summer on the Platte River, and have Flow Jams in parks all over the front range. I’ve just recently met all of these wonderful people and im so grateful that there is an awesome community where I live! Before I knew other hoopers, I made my own community. I gave hoops to all of my friends and encouraged meeting at the park as much as possible!

Your style is very fluid and fast! When did you switch to the polypro hoop?
I’ve been trying to tone down the fastness of my style lately, which is hard for me. You can’t appreciate speed if you don’t slow it down sometimes! Its hard though because the polypro is so light. It’s like hooping with a cloud. I use a HDPE hoop often as well and I still bust out my big black poly hoop for practicing my reverse current. I switched over to the polypro for the first time at Rainbow Michael’s workshop back in late April. I had been hooping for only 4 months I guess. Ha…I’ve never really thought about dates or any of this!

What is your favorite music to hoop to right now?
Bonobo, Bluetech, the new Beats Antique album……and Glee!!


When did you start fire hooping and who helped you start?

I started fire hooping this past summer. I had to look at my CosmicFire order conformation to remember! I got my Ninja in July. I didn’t have any help but the internet at first. I read about fire hooping safety, found out I should use white gas, have a wet blanket on hand and to never light up alone. A couple weeks later I started performing two nights a week with a group at Confluence Park in Denver where Danielle laid down the importance of fire safety!

This year, you attended Burning Man, Hoopcamp, and the Harbin Hoop Jam all within a couple months. Tell us how those have influenced your hoop practice.
All three events have blurred together into one awesome trip and I haven’t fully digested everything yet! It was awesome and a little overwhelming at first to be around so many people and so many hoopers event after event, week after week.

Lately I’ve been focused on dancing with my hoop more and going back to the things I already know and looking at them differently. I’ve started to experiment a lot more and make new things up. There are infinite possibilities and places to go with your hoop. I think that Burning man, Hoopcamp, and Harbin have opened my eyes to the huge amount  of love and community there is in the hooping world. This has inspired me to start teaching others and spreading the joy I’ve found in my own experience with hooping.

Out of those events, are there any “a-ha” or moments of bliss that really stick out for you?
There was many moments of bliss at these events! Hooping at the SpinCycle jam at Burning Man for the first time! Being around all the hoopers I’d been watching on the internet for months, everyone jamming in the same place, my broken hoop and I covered in playa dust…I could have died that moment and been perfectly content with it. I remember finally realizing by the third day of workshops at Hoopcamp that my cheeks were hurting so bad from constant smiling!

But my most favorite a-ha moment was at the Harbin Hoop Jam. I had woken up very early to go soak in the hot springs and as I walked through the jam area, I had to stop and take a second. Tammy’s lyra hoop and aerial silks were hanging from the ceiling! So I’m upside down in the silk and I’m looking around at the room. It was a lovely mess! Sleeping bodies, pillows, hoops and flow toys of all kinds and colors scattered everywhere! I was home with my hoop family!! It was such a great feeling. If any “non-hoop” person would have walked in and saw the room, they would have thought it was a mess and that people here are crazy!

Do you spin poi or do any other flow arts?
I spin poi and play with a flow wand here and there. I’ve been wanting to start double staff (which reminds me I have a Cosmic Fire order to make!) and get into contact juggling and acrobatics like Silks and Trapeze!

What advice would you give to new hoopers?
If you love doing it, don’t stop! Always do what makes you happy. Find that place were you and your hoop can explore together. Always challenge yourself and stay open to inspiration. Never feel discouraged, drop your hoops and remember to laugh at yourself!

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Thanks for giving us a glimpse into your “hoop world” Nick!
Subscribe to Nick’s YouTube channel here. If we all chant together, maybe he will post more videos, more often! 🙂

Hooping In The Good ‘Ol Days

27 May

Featured Guest Blogger: Catina Jane Gray

This is me. Seven years ago at 440 lbs.
I tell you this to make sure you know
that no matter your size…
YOU can hoop too!

My love of hooping started in 2003, and at that time hooping was pretty much only known among the String Cheese Incident fans…but that wouldn’t be the case for long! I fell in love with hooping via a blogger I’d been reading for years named Ariel. She was new to hooping & totally addicted. She spread that addiction to many of her readers, including me. I was so interested! But because of my size at the time, I didn’t think I could do it. It seemed so daunting to me…plus, where would I be able to find a hoop right for my size?!

Enter Anah (AKA Hoopalicious)…the “queen” of the hoop! She was making & selling hoops, so i contacted her and purchased my first hoop (as seen above). She even custom sized it for me and was great to work with in my effort to get a hoop that would work for me.

Then, when seeing how getting a big ol’ hoop into a car could be a task, I learned of collapsible hoops! WHAT?! I had to have one! I found Jason, who made these awesome hoops! And this hoop is the one I still use when I hoop today. Then, out of my desire to share this newfound passion with others, I started making my own hoops & giving them away. People loved them!!


Another exciting thing soon developed in the online hooping world. Hooping.org was born! The creators of the site recount it’s start…

Hooping.org was founded on May 4, 2003 shortly after three bloggers – Philo Hagen, Ariel Meadow Stallings and Vera Fleischer – spent hours hooping together at a party at Min Jung Kim’s house in Oakland, California. Frustrated by a lack of information about hooping online, Philo decided to start a blog about the topic and invited his friends to join him. Their goal – to spread the joy of hooping to all and build a world wide hooping community. “

Hooping.org was like “hooper heaven” because at that time, there just wasn’t a lot of info or videos around about hooping. Unlike today where you can find hooping videos and websites about hooping all over the web!! And even MOVIES! about hooping (which looks amazing!)

Now, with all this said, I never got great at hooping , I just really enjoyed it. My love of the hoop lasted a couple years…we had an on again/off again relationship and then it kind of fizzled out. For a long while now, I haven’t hooped much at all. Until recently…when Sara got me re-addicted to hooping!

This is perfect timing, because I have been on a weight loss journey for many years. I am currently almost 100 lbs. down and many to go, but I’m always looking for new ways to get my workouts in. So hooping has again showed up on my radar and I’ve been enjoying hooping this past week. It is a great cardio workout!! Some friends & I are even getting together to make hoops & hoop in the park! So just remember that no matter your size or skill level, if you want to give hooping a try, just DO IT! Go outside & play!

Catina Jane Gray is a self-taught mixed media artist, jewelry designer. & photographer living in sunny Florida. Be sure to check out her whimsical art and jewelry at her site, Catina Jane Arts and at her Etsy store too.