Hooping -- from child's play to exercise workout

Mon Jan 19, 2009 8:36am EST
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By Dorene Internicola

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Hula Hoops, those baby boomer toys that fired a worldwide craze in the1950s, have come back as must-have fitness tools to strengthen the core and battle the love handle.

The hoop is an ancient toy, fashioned from dried grape vines in ancient Egypt and depicted on vases in 5th century Athens.

But today's hoops are bigger, heavier, gaudier and more portable. And on the hips of 21st century practitioners, "hooping" has morphed from child's play to low-impact workout, aerobic dance, and path to enlightenment.

"Hooping transformed my entire life," Christabel Zamor, founder and CEO of HoopGirl Inc., told Reuters.

According to Zamor, contemporary hooping has evolved into hoop dance -- a form of fitness, healing and meditation for adults of all ages and ability levels. She said hooping is often called "the new yoga" because of its holistic and wellness benefits.

"When hoops emerged in the 50's they were kid's toys. It was all about rotating it around your waist," Zamor said of the mega-craze that circled the globe.

When the Wham-O Company rolled out their Hula Hoops in 1958, about 20 million of the lightweight plastic circles were sold in the first six months of production, according to the company.

''No sensation has ever swept the country like the Hula Hoop,'' Richard Johnson wrote in his 1985 book "American Fads." "The hoop remains the one standard against which all national crazes are measured.''   Continued...

<p>HoopGirl Teacher Training, Los Angeles, January 2007. REUTERS/ Laura Webb</p>