So why should you hoop in public? Why do something that may evoke your fear response?
If you are afraid of something, and it's not going to cause you bodily harm, that is actually an indication that you should move towards that thing. Our emotions are our spiritual compasses, but fear is not what we commonly take it for - something to warn us off of a potential experience because it will be unpleasant. The anticipation of some action, the fear itself, is usually the most disagreeable part. Confronting your fear and growing through it is one of the most liberating feelings in the realm of human experience.
Furthermore, fear is a very real blocker in the flow of universal energy. Fear makes you say "I can't" to yourself, and then you don't. If you don't do something on account of fear, nothing will happen. But if you work through the fear and at least try to do what scared you, anything CAN happen. To push through your fear is to push open the doors of possibility in your life.
Think about something wonderful in your existence. It could be that person of quality that you get to hold at night. It could be an experience which afforded you some opportunity. It could be your skill with a hula hoop or other rewarding hobby. Invariably, the chain of events that led to this marvelous thing can be traced back to a moment when you were afraid - afraid of being vulnerable, or of potential rejection, responsibility, afraid you weren't as good as others, or afraid of what they might think - but for whatever reason, you plunged into the void of uncertainty (possibility) and took action. You faced that fear. This cleared the way for a series of events to get you where you are - and none of it could have happened if you didn't have the courage to find out what lay on the other side of that particular mental worry.
People often tell me that I make it look easy, but I experienced all the physical symptoms of fear the first time I hooped in public, and many times since. It didn't come naturally to me. Fear can trigger physiological responses that make it hard to hoop - sweaty palms, weak knees, shortness of breath, shakiness. This is nothing more than a challenge to overcome, and I promise you there are rewards waiting for you on the other side.
Hoop confidence is something I developed over time, and you can too. I just took a deep breath and steeled myself to dance with a prop that we all know makes people look at you. I hadn't been hooping for very long, maybe four months, and had only just enough moves to string together a bit of flow. Yet that little bit of ability was something I had worked at, a unique relationship with a circle. It's special. Every day I had practiced and improved until I felt ready to shed my insecurities and say - this is me. I love this. This is what my body can do and I am no longer afraid to be in the gaze of strangers. It's ok to be shaky. Your skill with hooping in public will grow in pace with your hooping ability if you keep doing it. It's a fake it until you make it kind of thing. It really does get easier.
In the beginning of my hoop journey, I didn't want attention. I would have much preferred if no one noticed. And sometimes, people don't. Hundreds of people might walk right by you and not even take note of your brave new dance. Some might stare. Some might judge. Some might be amazed at what you can do. Some might only notice when you drop the hoop, and then look away. And none of that is important. All that matters is that you are incredibly powerful when you face your fear of public hooping and do it for yourself. When you are unapologetically yourself and do what you love in front of the whole world, you give permission for others to do the same. We all have thoughts of fear and they usually revolve around what other people think. But other people spend exponentially more time thinking about their own fears than focusing on what you're doing.
You might get a lot of positive thoughts about your public hooping from people, and never even know it. You might make a new friend. You might bring joy to children. Someone might take your picture. You might spark a conversation between others later on. You might inspire someone to go home and look up hooping on the internet, and get a hoop, and start hooping themselves!
So what if someone judges you negatively for your level of hooping skill? Is that really so scary? It actually doesn't matter at all. If they think hooping is dumb, or that you look clumsy - if they are embarrassed to watch a full grown adult who isn't afraid to be herself and do what she loves to do no matter who is or isn't watching, what does that really affect? It affects them, not you. It is their own mind that they pollute with negative thoughts and fears. You are working through yours, by hooping in public. If you are uninitiated to the hoop, what does it mean to judge someone negatively who is obviously in love with that form of movement? It's a subconscious recognition of the void in your life and a population of your thoughts and words with negativity, which is easier than examining your own fears and going for something that makes you just as happy.
You see, there is really only one thing to be afraid of when hooping in public, and it isn't the gaze of others. It's losing your hoop to a busy road or adjacent body of water! Here are a few tips for overcoming the fear of public hooping:
1. Baby steps. Start somewhere you are unlikely to draw a crowd. Your own yard, the corner of a park, or at a music festival where everyone is already dancing. You may be aware of other people and people possibly watching you, but you're far enough away that they can't see the details of your fear - just the beautiful indistinct shapes and planes of your hoopdance. If you put yourself between the sun and other people, all they will see is your silhouette. If you are having difficulty relaxing, turn your body so that you can't see the other people. Out of sight, out of mind.
2. Smile. As you get more comfortable, or due to circumstances beyond your control, people may come quite close to you while hooping in a park, at the beach or other public place. If they can see your face, and if you make eye contact, always smile. This goes back to giving permission, and faking it until you make it. A smile says that you are relaxed and confident. It says you are unapologetically enjoying yourself and they can enjoy being outside with you, too. Smile from your heart. Smile from humility and elation, from the special relationship you have with the hoop. Your own energy and the energy of those around will respond to it, I promise.
3. Choose somewhere inspiring to you. It is so wonderful to hoop outside. The general public also enjoys doing activities and being outside in beautiful places near your home, and don't let that stop you from hooping there.
4. Bring extra hoops, and maybe some music. You'd be surprised how approachable a pile of brightly colored hoops are. Suddenly, others are confronting their fears and asking you about what you are doing, and maybe even joining you! Now you are no longer alone, but instead have become an educator and an advocate for hooping, an agent in the geometric revolution. You will know that you have conquered your fear and are already reaping the rewards when you see someone else smiling and rocking the hoop in public - because of you.
5. Practice your chest and back rolls parallel to (and a good distance from) the water. Practice your escalators perpendicular to it. Just sayin'. Hooping in public is awesome! Retrieving your hoop from a duck pond in public is not.
Jill Terry hoops under a beautiful arch and adds to the epic scenery (photo above text)
"I've been hooping for a year and a half and majority of my hooping has actually been in public. I taught myself because I'm so driven to become better. Even at 27, I can still find the joy in this plastic toy! Living in St. Louis, my beautiful apartment looked over the neighborhood park. I went down with music, and some ideas...and grew from there. I have dancing background so hoop dance just came naturally. I love the idea of hooping in a public place because of the draw - it intrigues so many people from kids to adults. I've inspired so many people to pick up the hoop and that in itself is the main goal"! - Jill Terry
Kiara Sade-Monia Hoops on Downtown city streets!
"This photo was taken in downtown Chicago. These drummers ran into each other about an hour before they spotted me walking down Michigan Ave. and encouraged me to dance along! I was extremely nervous, as it was my first time hooping in front of complete strangers. But it turned out to be the experience that gave me more confidence in my practice. Public hooping can definitely be a confidence builder and also help introduce hooping to people in a positive light! I just started hooping last September It's been 8 months and I'm hooked for life. The lake/beach, parks, random grassy areas, pretty much anywhere that's tranquil is my ideal hoop zone. I practice outdoors more and more as the weather warms up and each and every time I take something new from it. With the amount of space and freedom you have to explore your flow you just can't go wrong. With the possibility of onlookers, though they can get your nerves going, it teaches you to focus under pressure. And eventually you realize you're not under any pressure, you're just doing your thing as per usual..." -Kiara Sade-Monia
Pamela lamont hoops outdoors
"I started hooping in public because I started at festivals! (Bonaroo and Burning Man, 6 years ago). Now I teach at festivals, community centres and schools! It is amazing to introduce this whimsical circle to the masses. I still get nervous but I always find the hoop brings out the best in people. At the end of the day someone picks up a hoop and falls in love"! - Pamela Lamont, www.thehoopfairy.com
Jessie Broschart hoops in a public square, in parades, in the park, in nursing homes....
" I have been hooping for a little over 3 years. I started hooping in public after my first year and was invited to hoop in a parade. It was so much fun that I got involved with other events in my community and I love the positive feedback I get from everyone. I love the attention from hooping. It is all positive and a good way to get noticed and make new friends! I always get so excited for any hoop event"! - Jessie Broschart
amy henry hoops in a parade
"I've only been hooping for about 9 months. This was my first (and only, to date) public "appearance". I was really nervous but it helped that there were other hoopers my age participating in the parade". - Amy Henry
Samantha Yvette double hoops at the cherry blossom festival
"I've been hooping for 6 months! I started hooping in public about 3 months into my journey when I was a little bit more confident with my flow. There's so many places I love to hoop at, but my favorite by far is in Great Falls National Park. In the middle of the main trail there is this "beach" along the river where many hikers stop to eat and rest".
Nancy burns hoops at festivals and an elementary school in Thailand
"I have been hooping for 7 years - in certain places the entire time, but I probably started really publicly hooping and not caring about the reactions I got about 5 years ago then doing "gigs" within the past 3 years. I love hooping at festivals, elementary schools/orphanages or really anywhere with children are gathered to play, and definitely anywhere while traveling abroad". - Nancy Burns
Krystal Carosiello led hoops at a bonfire
"I have been hooping about 6 years on and off. This picture was taken at Return to Roots festival. I actually finally got waist hooping for the first time outside of a concert in a parking lot selling jewelry....everywhere I hoop is pretty public. My yard is on a corner next to a bus stop and hooping in my house sucks....so I guess I always hoop in some form of public...my favorite spot would probably have to be the beach. I haven't been in forever but I've loved it every time"! - Krystal Carosiello
Jenny McKinney hoops at a crowded beach
"I've been hooping about a year. I started hooping in public within a few months. My favorite public place to hoop is at festivals! Second favorite is at smaller electronic local shows where they let hoops in". -Jenny McKinney
Courtney Janicki LED Hoops in the club and is unperturbed by onlookers
"I've been hooping for a year and 8 months. I technically started hooping in public right off the bat, because it was summer so I was outside a lot and I really started hooping in public at camp bisco that summer. But I still didn't fully start doing it comfortably until the past 6 months because living in Buffalo I had to find indoor places to hoop, so we had a lot of shows and events that are flow friendly held for the public. My favorite place to hoop is at festivals, because everyone is encouraging and feeding off the positivity from each other". - Courtney Janicki
tonya lucas hoops with her baby on her heart at an outdoor concert
"I've been hooping for three years. I've been hooping publicly for two years. I owned a hoop troupe and performed with a burlesque team before my kiddos came along. My favorite place to hoop publicly is at festivals. I was shy, but as soon as I start hooping none of that matters. Hooping makes me feel free". - Tonya Lucas
jan henry hoops at disney world
"I have been hooping for 5 years total and in public occasionally for the last 3 years...shyly. I get anxious because I worry that people will think I'm showing off. I'm getting bolder. I do like to hoop in unusual places, though. My favorite so far was probably the Grand Canyon because I carried my travel hoop along on our day hike and stopped at various points to assemble it and hoop in ideal spots". - Jan Henry
Jeanne Rebecca Harrel dances with her mini hoops at a pier
"My one year hoopiversary is in a couple weeks. I hooped for the first time at a festival last summer called Northwest String Summit. My favorite public place to hoop is at outdoor music festivals, but I also love the beach (although wind makes it harder). I keep hoops on me at all times in my car, at work, in case I get the urge to bust them out. I was along a sidewalk pier in this shot so most people were in front of me. A couple families with kids stopped and watched. It was awesome". - Jeanne Rebecca Harrel
sarah marie hoops in parks, downtown, and at festivals
"These photos were taken at Gasworks park and a music festival at the Gorge (WA). I have been hooping for 13 months and have been public hooping for 11 months. I am trying out busking and I'm also a contestant on HOOPING IDOL 2015. [THIS VIDEO LINK SHOWS SARAH DOING ALL KINDS OF AMAZING PUBLIC HOOPING!] My favorite place to public hoop is at Greenlake Park in Seattle"!
- Sarah Marie
Ashley LaClair Cribbs hoops in downtown public parks
"I've been hooping since September of last year, about 7 months. I started hooping in public almost right away because I didn't have much of a choice... I live in the city (Stockholm) and in an apartment with not much room, so I was outside in the grass as much as possible. There are always people walking or biking past that space. Sometimes I even see people watching me from their balconies or windows. Honestly I love to try lots of different places for public hooping. There are tons of parks here in Stockholm so I'm trying them all out slowly! The picture was taken in a small park just by the middle of downtown Stockholm, and the view you see in the background is Gamla Stan (Old Town)".
- Ashley LaClair Cribbs
caroline Krueger hoops In her bathing suit on a beach in costa rica
"I have been hooping for four years. I started hooping in public pretty early on - as soon as I knew a few moves. I knew from day one that hooping was going to be a big part of my life and that I wanted to be able to share my passion with others. Although I found it challenging, I pushed myself to hoop in public. In the club, in public parks, at festivals, and on stage with my fire troupe. Over time my confidence grew and I am proud to say that I am no longer afraid to hoop in public!" - Caroline Krueger, Geometric Revolution Hooping
If you would like to be featured in this article, contact me. All you need is a picture of yourself solo hooping, with members of the public in the picture!