Hula Hooping Trends Gain Popularity at Stony Brook University

By Elsie Boskamp & Rachel Siford 

The overhead lights dimmed, and hues of green and purple fluorescents lit the floor as Ryan Tiss signaled the DJ to turn up the volume.  Upbeat tempos streamed into the upper floor of the GLS Building and Tiss swung a slim glow-in-the-dark hula-hoop over his head and around his waist before jumping through the ring and winding it around his legs and feet.  Two minutes into his routine, the crowd was clapping and cheering for more.

Hoola-Ween, the Stony Brook Hula-Hoop Enthusiasts Club’s first large event, was held on Friday Oct. 30 with the intention of bringing the campus together in an environment that celebrated hula hooping for becoming a popular exercise and dance trend in recent years.

“Everyone can come together and have a fun time and workout and relax all at the same time,” Tiss, the co-founder and vice president of the club, said.  “Yes, you can hoop specifically for exercise or you can hoop specifically for dance but at the end of the day you’re still working out your body and moving with the music so you’re really doing it all.”

Hoola-Ween from Elsie Boskamp on Vimeo.

This is the first semester the Hula-Hoop Enthusiasts Club was funded by the Undergraduate Student Government. Founders, Tiss and creative director and co-founder Lily Nack, said they hope to use the funding from USG to put on their next event, which will be a “make-your-own-hula-hoop” event.

The club, which was created in 2014 meets once a week to practice improve moves and choreographed routines, some of which were showcased in their Hoola-Ween event.

“It takes my mind off a lot of stress,” Tamara Goodwin, a junior civil engineering major and a member of the club, said.  “It’s like dancing and you get to be creative and get a lot of exercise and play music.”

The health benefits of hooping include working out the core, burning calories, improving flexibility and motor skills and boosting mental health, Nack said.

“The modernized ‘Hoop Dance’ movement started in the West Coast of America at the start of this century and has exploded across North America, Mexico, Europe and Australia over the last decade,” Michelle Joel, founder of The Hula Hoop Institute, said.  “Hoop dance incorporates elements of modern and contemporary dance, acrobatics, circus and fitness.”

“Hula hooping, I feel like, is more rewarding than dancing because you do tricks and you have the feedback from your hula hoop,” Goodwin said.

Weather considered a dance routine or an exercise regime, “It has come a long way since just spinning a hula-hoop around your waist,” Joel said.