Hooping It Up

Kid stuff grows into a serious form of exercise and expression.

Just to make it clear, “hooping” and “hula hooping” are two totally different things.

Sure, they’re similar, but most hula hoopers are 10-year-olds looking for something fun to do. Hoopers, on the other hand, are adults looking for aerobic exercise, a form of self-expression and a Zenlike state of spiritual connection.

Renee Kogler, an office manager for an optometrist by day, moonlights as Cleveland’s lone hoop dance instructor. She was a belly dancer before she discovered hooping, after seeing groups of hoopers gathered at musical festivals.

She studied hooping by watching YouTube videos, and three years later, she’s hooked. Kogler drives from her home in Mantua to give lessons at Cleveland Exotic Dance and Prana Yoga and Dance Studio.

“My motto is: will travel for hoop,” she says.

After just one session with Kogler, even students with no previous experience learn the basics to core hoop, or waist hoop, to the point of fatigue. They eventually learn how to fluidly move from core hooping to chest, hand, leg and off-the-body hooping.

And they don’t use just any old hoops. Kogler makes adult-sized ones out of irrigation tubing.

“It’s a great cardiovascular workout, for sure,” she says, but it’s also habit-forming, “Once you understand how beneficial it is, not just physically but mentally, people become addicted to it. ... I’ve seen it happen.”

The repetitive, circular motion also helps hoopers achieve a meditative trance. “You’re not just working your core; you’re clearing your mind,” Kogler says. “This is the only thing I do in my waking state that makes me feel ‘one.’ I know that sounds cheesy, but it’s true.”

For more information, visit clevelandexoticdance.com or pranayogaanddance.com.

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