By Ally Balcerzak
For many, hula hoops are synonymous with childhood and distant memories. But over the past decade, the once playground pastime has seen a resurgence in popularity as a way of exercising and expressing oneself creatively.
For instructor Benjamin Berry, hooping is a way of life. In 2013, Benjamin borrowed a friend’s hoop while bored, and five hours later he had fallen in love with the challenge and how it made him feel. Over the next year, Benjamin earned his hoop teaching certification, began teaching classes at his local YMCA, and co-founded a circus arts club at Alfred State College.
In 2015, Benjamin entered two online hooping competitions — Hooping Idol Season Five and Electric Forest’s Hoop Troupe, earningthe international title of “Male Hooper of the Year 2015” on Hooping.org. After the videos from those competitions went semi-viral, Benjamin connected with the online hooping community and began teaching workshops for beginners and advanced hoopers around the country. Now he is focused on introducing hooping to the Western New York community. “Kids love it. Ravers love it. Soccer moms love it. Even some dads love it. Hooping is something that’s universal, and people of all ages, sizes, genders, and levels of ability can enjoy it,” says Benjamin.
Kids love it. Ravers love it. Soccer moms love it. Even dads love it. Hooping is universal and something all people can enjoy.
Benjamin has heard dozens of excuses as to why people don’t hoop, most of which boil down to three common misconceptions.
- You have to be thin to hoop.People of all body types hoop. Hoop company Ruby Hooping (www.rubyhooping.com) created a body-positive community using the hashtag #curvyhoopersunite to bring together hoopers of all shapes, sizes, and genders. Their work helped introduce the sport and community to people around the world.
2. A hooper can pick up any hoop and succeed.According to Benjamin, “It’s not you, it’s the hoop. Most people can keep a hoop up on the first try when using a properly-sized adult hoop and correct posture.” For beginners, a hoop made of ¾-inch, 100-160 polyethylene (PE) plastic, with a diameter that allows the hoop to hit between your belly button and sternum when placed on the floor is best.
3. Only women hoop.Search for #guysthathoop or #malehoopers on Instagram and you’ll find a large, welcoming community of male-identified hoopers.
Believe it or not, hoop dancing burns up to 600 calories an hour according to a 2011 American Council on Exercise study. See https://www.acefitness.org/certifiednewsarticle/1094/ace-sponsored-research-hooping-effective-workout.
Benjamin teaches and participates in hoop workshops year-round. See Benjamin at Inclusion Festival. He also offers classes, interactive performances, and educational events for all ages and skill levels, You can also purchase a beginner hoop directly from Benjamin. For advanced hoops, visit www.kemmitthoops.com, to receive a 10% discount using Benjamin’s personal code “YASQUEEN.” For more visit www.benjaminberry.comor call 585-683-6640.