Allison Miller masters hoops of all sizes. The 22-year-old Sacramento resident is kind of a Hula-Hoop prodigy. She randomly enrolled in a hoop class at UC Santa Cruz in 2007, and by 2008 became a certified instructor and started teaching classes locally. Miller, a recent UC Davis graduate, owns Bloom Hoops, where she makes and sells a variety of hoops, hosts classes and showcases her performance talent. She plans to expand her business by offering more classes and free hoop jams in Sacramento-area parks. For more information, visit www.bloomhoops.com.
I noticed you don’t use the term Hula-Hoop. Is there a reason for that?
There is a reason. Wham-O, the corporation who invented the Hula-Hoop back in the ’50s, they own the word Hula-Hoop. So, I guess back kind of when the Hula-Hoop community was starting to become a little bit more commercial and HoopGirl was starting to take form, I guess they were taking legal action against people who used the word Hula-Hoop on their websites to describe what they sold. So yeah, I sell hoops. I do not sell Hula-Hoops.
You got the hang of hooping pretty quick.
Yeah, I started March 2007 myself, and basically within 11 months, I was teaching the classes. In the beginning … I would just hoop for hours and hours and hours. It took a lot of practice. Dedication and time, that’s what it takes to get fluid in anything.
Maybe a little bit of natural ability in there?
A little bit. I have a lot of dance background: synchronized swimming and tap and ballet.
How many hoops can you hula?
I don’t think I’ve ever tried more than 15 or so, because you usually have to have about the same size [hoops] to do it properly. … Not [for] too long, you can’t really keep it up.
At one time?
Yeah. The big ones, yeah.
What part of your body is most difficult to hoop with?
The only part that I’ve encountered that I haven’t been able to hoop on so far is [my] face. We’ve got the forehead and we’ve got a chin. Pretty much we haven’t found a part of the body you can’t hoop on, because we figured out this one, this unicorn; it’s called a head stall. You can sustain it basically like you’re holding it. It’s a balanced weight on your forehead. Good stalls are a pretty important part of hooping for hoop dance. You really can take it wherever you’d like, from head to toe.
How often to you practice your hooping skills?
I practice pretty much every day, five, six times a week for a couple of hours. It’s something that I really love, so it’s not practicing for me. It’s just something that naturally would happen in my daily routine because it’s something I love.
Is hooping a good workout?
It is. I mean, I don’t have any official data, but from everyone I’ve heard, it [burns] about 400 to 600 calories per hour. … It helps build your stomach muscles as well as your back muscles. It improves your posture and your balance as well. And it’s a great full-body workout when you actually get into the hoop dance aspects and you start moving the hoop all over your body, off body.
Is it all in the hips?
It’s a little bit different. Yeah, it is hip-based. What you usually do is you actually hold the hoop flat against your mid- to lower back and you put one foot in front of the other, like you’re taking a small step. That gives you a balance area for yourself. It gives you a way so you can rock your weight forward and backward, forward and backward. And it’s kind of a pendulum movement, so it is in the hips, but the pendulum starts a little bit higher. It starts slightly higher than your belly button and ends right at the hips. … You can do circles, as people traditionally think about hooping, but it takes a little bit more effort to actually try to keep up with the hoop’s pace.
Has there been anyone in one of your classes that could absolutely not hoop?
No. In my opinion, a success is a least three or four revolutions; five to six is even better. If you can keep it going and I can see you’ve made a connection with the hoop, that’s great. And I’ve never had anyone walk away without at least being able to do that.
How do you make a hoop?
You use some special tubing that you use for irrigation and then you bend it and put it together and decorate it with special tapes. … I don’t ever have a hoop without what’s called gaffer’s tape; it’s an electrician’s tape. … It’s kind of a clothlike tape, and they come in a lot of different colors, which is cool for decorating, but it actually helps the hoop grip to your skin.